Being lazy is something that is often frowned upon in today’s world. When we think of lazy people we imagine someone who is living in filth. There are old junk food wrappers and plastic pop bottle scattered on the floor. They sit in front of their television or computer all day long wasting their precious time consuming empty content and playing mindless video games. Although these people exist in larger numbers than I would like to think about, I believe that laziness in the absences of depression can become one of our greatest attributes.
When we are lucky enough to be stricken with inspiration, what are we usually doing? Are we ears deep in a text-book? Or are we perhaps grinding away for hours on a particular problem when all of a sudden we are hit with a profound insight? Chances are probably not. In fact when we are trying our hardest is usually when our problems become that much more frustrating and difficult.
Creativity is usually found during our breaks when we’ve turned our minds off for a moment. It comes when we day-dream or are engaged in an activity totally unrelated to our problems.
When Sir Isaac Newton came up with the Universal Law of Gravity, was he consumed in his studies? Or was he simply enjoying the sight of his garden during the middle of the day while sitting under an apple tree?
How about Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity? Whenever he became stuck with a problem he would often take a break by playing his violin. He’s been quoted as saying “the theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception.” (1) His theory came to him not as he worked on it but by intuition as he played his violin.
Being lazy gives our minds the space it needs to see problems in different ways. Creativity often needs time to incubate in our minds before we see any results. So, next time you are struggling with a problem try going for a long stroll, play some video games or take the rest of the day off to do nothing at all.
If you plan it out properly, being lazy can be your best strategy for staying healthy. If you make it so every time you want to eat some junk food you have to get up off the couch and leave the house to get it, how often do you think you’ll actually do it? It’s a lot harder to leave the house then it is to walk to the kitchen. If you simply don’t keep junk food in the house then you can use your laziness to your advantage.
Laziness won’t only help you avoid bad food but it also help you to find easier ways to eat healthy more often. When I became tired and annoyed with always having to cook and prepare a lunch the night before work my laziness forced me to find a way to have an incredible healthy lunch that was inexpensive, required no cooking and could be made in less than five minutes. The result was The Lazy Man’s Lunch.
Being lazy also works with exercise as well. Instead of doing long-stead state exercises like jogging or spending an hour lifting moderately heavy weights, you can instead opt for high intensity workouts. Not only do high intensity workouts take a fraction of the time, they can also produce better results.
Studies have shown that brief, all-out-sprints, followed by rest, are far more effective at causing weight loss as well as significant increasing aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
Similarly, in my post How to Hack your Fitness, I talk about how I condensed five days’ worth of workouts into a once a week, very brief, very intense, full body workout and experienced the same if not better gains in muscle mass and strength compared to the five-day program.
Efficient is just a Fancy Word for Lazy
People who are efficient are just lazy people who don’t like doing more work than they have to. This forces them to figure out shortcuts and prioritize so they can get the most amount of work done in the shortest amount of time.
One of my favorite books is The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. However, this book could have also been titled “How to be as Lazy as Humanly Possible”. The thing about lazy people is that they value time over money. They want to get their work done as fast as possible so they can have more time to do the things they actually enjoy. This is a key mindset to have if you ever hope of escaping your nine to five.
Laziness Leads to our Greatest Innovations
Some of our favorite innovations of the 21 century have come out of pure laziness. Who wanted to drive to Blockbusters to rent a movie when you could just turn on Netflix? Why would you hand write a letter when you can just email someone? And why on earth would you leave your couch to buy groceries when Amazon delivers?
Aside from necessity, laziness is one of our greatest motivators for innovations. It forces us to find the easiest and fastest way to do things which produces inventions that make our lives much easier.
What could be more lazy than sitting quietly in the dark and doing absolutely nothing? This is basically the idea around meditation. The Buddha, one of the few people to achieve enlightenment, was so lazy that one time he spent seven days sitting under a Bodhi tree not only doing nothing but in fact trying to become no-thing. Talk about lazy!
Laziness in this context helps you understand yourself in a much deeper way. When you are able to sit quietly and observe the hustle and bustle of the mind you are able to learn a lot about yourself and the benefits can be immense.
Slowing down and doing nothing at all is sometimes the best use of our time. In today’s society the words busyness and business have become one in the same. We think that if we’re not running errands, attending meets, going to work, or inputting information we are somehow being lazy. Yet, without lazy people we would not be where we are today.
Being lazy can be a beautiful thing if you let it. If you invest in your laziness and refine it, it can give you the most valuable commodity we have…more time.