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How to Make the Mundane Seem Fascinating

I won't bore you with a long introduction when simply reading the title will suffice. How to make the seemingly mundane less boring:

In Video Games...

For many, the daily and weekly grind can occasionally seem humdrum. Eat, work, sleep, eat, repeat. Yet to puncture the tedium, some ironically enjoy leisure activities that glorify the mundane. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in The Sims.

For those of you who don't know, The Sims is a wildly popular series of video games that allows the player to control the everyday lives of virtual characters. Your character showers, cooks, goes to work, pays bills, buys a house, goes on dates, raises a family; everything you might do. Except while you might deem many of these daily activities to be unremarkable if they occurred in your life, in The Sims, they are anything but. As stated by writer Charles Paulk,

Here was a game as menial and repetitive as life itself, and its utter

dearth of the fantastic perversely served as its hook. The Sims'

enigmatic appeal scythed across boundaries of age and gender... By 2005, the audience for The Sims and its

various expansions had swollen to over 52 million worldwide.

Closer analysis reveals an obvious difference that makes playing The Sims so enjoyable. The speed with which

the player receives rewards and reinforcement

compared to real life is greatly increased. In The Sims, time moves much faster, and you can

fast-forward at your pleasure. It doesn't take your Sim thirty minutes

to prepare an immaculate meal, it takes mere seconds. A promotion at work is only hours away, not years.

In Television...


Advertising the monotonous hasn't just worked for video games, but it has also been successful for reality TV. The newest shows aren't dropping people on exotic islands and asking them to outwit, outplay, and outlast for our pleasure; they're simply showcasing the everyday lives of pawnshop owners, parking cops, DMV employees, and airport staff.

So what's the key difference here? Well, on those singularly enjoyable reality TV shows, you don't have to watch the parking cop performing repetitive duties like paperwork and checking meters -- which actually comprises the majority of their day -- you only get to see when he or she plants a $100 ticket on a Maserati or gets berated by someone who just received "the boot."

At Work...

Regrettably, there's no way to edit or fast-forward days of drudgery in our own lives, but there's something that can be done to reduce the monotony: reward yourself frequently. For example, at work, make a deal that 55 minutes of arduous toil will earn you five minutes of Facebook or Internet surfing. If your employer doesn't like this, tell him or her about a 2009 Australian study, which found that "short and unobtrusive" breaks can boost worker productivity.

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