Can we read Star Wars again tonight?

I’m getting my son ready for bed when this particular question gets asked.  It’s not a surprising question, really. He’s 5, and he’s fallen in love with the series just as hard as he did with Thomas the Tank Engine when he was two.  I can’t even blame him – I was six  when the original movie came out, and I did the same thing.

“No,” I answer.

“Why not?” he asks, picking up his Little Golden Book edition of Rerurn of the Jedi.

“Because daddy’s tired of reading Star Wars,” I answer, because I’ve read – or listened to my wife read – that same exact story for most of October.  And then I wait, pretty sure I’ll cave in if he asks. Fortunately for my sanity, he picks another book and we read about trains instead.

All of which got me wondering:  why do we get bored?  I mean, I love Star Wars. Why do I get tired of reading it, or watching it?  Wouldn’t it make more sensed I wanted to keep doing something I enjoyed?

It turns out that there’s a number of theories about boredom. Psychology Today published an article suggesting that it was a way to make the brain more efficient with drugs.

Here’s the idea. Your brain works a lot. For example, you focus on something new twice a second. If you spot something interesting, your brain dumps a hit of opioid chemicals, which encourages you to focus on that thing – freeing up resources for other tasks. But the opioid fix wears off, and so you go looking for something new to get a new fix.  (This may also explain why the first bite of ice cream is the best…)

So, if this theory is true, the more accurate answer to “why not” would have been “because daddy is jonesing for some of that sweet brain heroin”.

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