Tolerance for Boredom and Pain

zigzag our way through the boredom and pain


To live a successful life you may need to specifically train yourself to tolerate boredom and pain.

Note that tolerance is different to sensitivity.

People who have great endurance are not less "sensitive" to pain. They can tolerate it better, because of their specific training.

The book "Endure" by Alex Hutchinson goes into this more.

Cyclists feel pain as much as anyone.

They tolerate it for longer.

And when they've been doing a lot of endurance training they tolerate it more than they do the rest of the time.


(I am told) that:

To be a great boxer, at some level you have to like getting hit.

Not just be indifferent to it, but be encouraged by it. In other pursuits: you often have to like boredom.

Mark Hooper tells me that:

cyclists and runners tell me that at some point you begin to crave the uphill

I did further research and read "Endure". It's more complicated. Definitely pain tolerance is crucial for endurance.

And I think that most things in life are endurance sports. That success can only be achieved through endurance. So such tolerance is crucial.

I read in James Clear Atomic Habits that a trainer told him that what sets great weights athletes apart is their tolerance for boredom.

I've found mention of these "experiential exercises" --

  • Breathing through a straw
  • Holding your hand in a bucket of ice water for as long as you can

In "Thinking in Pictures" Temple Grandin talks about a drawing exercise where they had to take 1 hour to draw a show. She was amazed the resulting pictures were so good.

And similarly:

  • Self compassion - as a treatment for perfectionism

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