You’re Not Lazy. That’s It. That’s The Problem

You’re not lazy.

That’s not the problem.

It’s not that you’re scared or distracted or something else. You don’t have to hustle like Gary Vee. You don’t have to just do it. You don’t have to be a living embodiment of the swoosh. It’s interesting how many times this idea comes up. Even Shia LaBeouf has a spin on it.

Here’s the big secret…

We think being lazy is the opposite of being successful and productive. What if it’s not? What if being lazy was necessary? What if procrastinating weren’t a bad thing? What if you were just bad at them?

Maybe being lazy is a skill.

We’ve forgotten it.

Everyone is lazy.

Here’s the most basic definition of lazy:

Unwilling to do work.

I’m pretty sure that includes all of us. Nobody loves work. Some of us have managed to make money off doing things we enjoy. We call it “work” because it earns income or brings us some kind of reward. The dirty little truth is that we do it for its own sake.

We got lucky.

There was a point in human history where laziness couldn’t exist. You either found food and shelter, or you starved. You froze. You got eaten. Once you had food and shelter, you didn’t go about making more shelter just for the hell of it. You kicked back and relaxed. You painted the walls of your cave because you wanted to, not because it was “work.”

My neighborhood has a few stray cats. They don’t do anything more than they have to in order to survive. They enjoy long naps.

This is what animals do.

We’re animals.

None of us are exactly “willing” to do work. What we’re willing to do is exchange our time and energy for things we need. We want to do as little work as possible for the maximum outcome. Doing more work than necessary is actually the root of our biggest problems.

Laziness is good for you.


We crave homeostasis.

Do you know what really motivates people?

A desire to do nothing.

We operate on what psychologists call drives, or needs. Our biggest need of all is homeostasis, a point where we can stop worrying about everything and just chill out for a little while. We do things so we don’t have to do them anymore, at least not until tomorrow.

We don’t allow ourselves to do nothing anymore.

We’ve bought into the lie that doing nothing is wrong. If it’s not unproductive, it’s just plain boring. So we look for fun.

We eat out.

We go to movies. We play games. We throw parties. We bathe. We get drunk. We do anything but stay home.

The closest thing we have to nothing is called meditating. We’re supposed to do it sitting upright, with our legs in a pretzel. We’re supposed to by special clothes and download apps. We have to consume it. We write about it in journals. We track it in apps.

You know the worst part?

We’re constantly sold homeostasis. Every ad out there sells the idea of lounging around doing nothing. It’s just that they’re doing it in an exotic location, or in leisure, because that’s approved. The marketers and influencers have taken something we can do for free whenever we want, and they’ve turned it into the most exclusive form of luxury.

Only the rich can be lazy.


Being lazy is the best type of rest.

Tell me if this has ever happened to you: Your family goes on vacation, or you take a trip with friends. It’s supposed to be relaxing.

You come back exhausted.

Stuff like this has happened to me my entire life. I do something that’s supposed to be restful and restorative.

It makes everything worse.

We think we understand rest. We don’t. There’s actually seven types of rest, and you need them all:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Sensory
  • Creative
  • Emotional
  • Social
  • Spiritual

Some people get all these types of rest without really trying. I remember those days, before I had a spouse or a kid. I could do whatever I wanted, and I almost never felt tired. I could be lazy, and there was nobody around to heap demands on me or pass judgment.

Those days are gone.

If you’re like me, you have lots of pulls on your time and energy. It’s easier to get worn out. It’s hard to figure out what kind of rest you need.

It’s even harder to justify getting that rest.

 Now I’ve honed the ability to procrastinate. I don’t have to clean the counters right now, or the toilets.

They can wait. My rest is more important.

Rest, it’s one of my favorite things. I enjoy it more than Netflix.

It’s even better than sex.

I love being lazy.


Drop the ball

One of my favorite books is Drop The Ball, by Tiffany Dufu. It’s one of the most underrated self-help books of all time. Maybe that’s because it suggests there’s nothing wrong with you, except one thing:

You do too much.

Some of us are overworked because we’re taking up the slack from coworkers and spouses who don’t pull their weight. We take on their responsibilities, and over time it becomes an expectation.

They feel entitled.

There’s a simple solution to this problem.

Stop doing it.

Being lazy is hard work for some of us. We have to learn the art of not doing their work, to the point it becomes a problem. It will bother us to see work not getting done. We have to get over it.

It’s called learning to be lazy.


Being “busy” is killing us

The true opposite of being lazy is having something to do. They fit together. We do things in order to satisfy our drives. Once they’re done, we’ve achieved homeostasis. We can go back to being lazy.

We’ve twisted purpose into something else. Now our lives our full of things we have to do that don’t achieve homeostasis.

They throw us further out of whack.

Most of us don’t need 40–60 hours a week to do our jobs. It’s not even close. And yet, we’re pressured to fill up that time. In fact, our jobs are often filled with disruptions and distractions.

Whenever we do finish our work earlier, we’re not rewarded.

We’re punished.

Our bosses give us more work. They cut our hours and send us home. So we find ways to look busy. We write memos. We hold pointless meetings. We attend professional development workshops.

It’s all a waste.


Bring back lazy

Maybe you feel out of whack. Maybe you struggle to focus. You have actual things you want to accomplish, not just busywork. For some reason you just can’t get started on them.

Maybe it’s not because you’re lazy.

Maybe it’s because you’re not lazy. You’re doing too much. You’re trying to please your family, your boss, and even total strangers. You’re not doing the things that would actually satisfy you, and it’s keeping you from achieving homeostasis. Either that, or you’re mistaking your body’s need to do nothing as a bad thing, and you’re depriving it of valuable rest.

I have a suggestion, and it goes counter to the Nike slogan. They say, “Just do it.” For some of us, that’s the answer — not always.

Just don’t.


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