So why is it so easy to be lazy. Well, there's a short and long answer to that/ First, definitions and quotations. Then in the main segment, we'll get into the weeds about whether lazy is good or bad for you, and we’ll finish off with a Disgruntled Nugget – a little piece of wisdom you can take with you, or not, I don’t care. Also thx to Audionautix and Partners In Rhyme for the music and sound effects.Support the show
As things drag on with this pandemic, there are signs of hope that we may be able to do more living, safely this summer. If that's the case, I encourage everyone who has the means to eat and drink at restaurants and bars and support these small businesses as much as possible, and tip as much as you can, everyone needs this help right now. Also, out on the town or not, support your local arts scene. Make sure musicians, artists, actors and all the supporting members of that community stay in work, paid, and respected. Just pay forward, everyday, all the time.
So just last episode I talked in some detail about procrastination. This episode tackles laziness, which you may think is the same. But really, although they are related, they are not the same, so think of this as a two-part show. Or not, I don't care how you look at it. But to start, let’s define laziness as "the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy; idleness". Secondly, let's, just for fun, define relaxing as "reducing tension or anxiety" just to give you a different view on how you could look at your laziness, if you squint a bit. Now let's look at some quotations to see what others think of this subject.
Our first quotation comes from Robert Heinlein, an American science fiction author, aeronautical engineer, and naval officer. Heinlein published 32 novels, 59 short stories, and 16 collections during his life and is widely credited with initiating the concept of "pay it forward" that we all still use today. His quotation says, “Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.” Considering the amount of work he got done, I would say he found the better way. Anyway, we'll come back to this concept later.
Our next quotation is from Evan Esar, an enigmatic American humorist who left almost no record of his early life. Esar devoted his adult life to writing and compiling books of humour such as "Esar's Comic Dictionary", "Esar's Joke Dictionary" and the "The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations" among many other titles. He is quoted as saying, "The trouble with the world is that laziness is seldom curable and never fatal." I'm not sure it's never fatal, and I'm not sure it needs to be cured, but in context it is funny-ish.
Thomas Alva Edison gives us our final quotation. Described generally as an American inventor and businessman, he was much better at stealing ideas than coming up with them himself. Also, because he owned the patent to direct current that he favoured to alternating current, only because he could profit from it, he created his travelling roadshow of horrors designed to demonstrate the danger of alternating current. This show, set up in public locations over several years, used AC power to electrocuted dogs, cats, monkeys, and even Topsy the elephant, proving that he is, in fact, a man with no morals. He said, “We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work”, but like everything else about this sad little fucker, he probably stole that stupid gem too.
So why are we talking about laziness? Well, a paper written by Frédéric Saldmann, a cardiologist and a specialist in public health and nutrition based in the world-famous Hopitaux de Paris public health system, states that, "Every time you are physically lazy, you will lose muscle". Dr. Saldmann continues to say "we already naturally lose 1 to 2% of muscle per year from the age of 30". But of note is that this is a warning that also applies to mental activity. "When you don't exercise your brain, your IQ likely also suffers." This Australian study has highlighted the “recipe for aging badly“ and, apparently, if you sleep more than nine hours every night or if you do less that two and a half hours of exercise per week, your mortality rate increases by 25%. There are a lot of factors at play here to make those numbers scarier than they should, but the premise is, use it or lose it.
In the same vein, in an article published in The Lancet titled "The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health", researchers concluded that "Physical inactivity is pandemic, a leading cause of death in the world, and clearly one of the top four pillars of a noncommunicable disease strategy." In fact, in a companion article in The Lancet titled "Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy" it was concluded that "persuasive evidence exists that 6–10% of all deaths from noncommunicable diseases worldwide can be attributed to physical inactivity, and this percentage is even higher for specific diseases, like 30% for ischaemic heart disease." So again, whether you're well or not, you will live longer and think better if you're less lazy and more active. But is there a price to pay for not being lazy? I'm glad you asked.
In an article published in the Journal of Health Psychology titled "The physical sacrifice of thinking: Investigating the relationship between thinking and physical activity in everyday life", researchers found that the "need for cognition" or NFC as it has been abbreviated, maybe so high in some individuals that they are happier and healthier by engaging in intellectual pursuits and participating less in physical activity. Even more interesting is the conclusion from a research paper titled "Back to the future: Autobiographical planning and the functionality of mind-wandering" published in Consciousness and Cognition that suggests that "when our attention is at rest, the places our mind wanders to include the future (48% of the time), the present (28%) and the past (12%). This is important because we can “literally become more creative and better at problem-solving.” They conclude "observations suggest that the availability of idle working memory resources is particularly important in the generation of future related cognition during mind-wandering." So we're more creative, and use more of our brain, when we're lazy, maybe, possibly. But wait, there's more.
Why is it so easy to be lazy, good or bad? Well, researchers from UBC publish a paper in Neuropsychologia titled "Avoiding sedentary behaviours requires more cortical resources than avoiding physical activity: An EEG study" that answers just that. It seems that our brains are just designed to naturally take the easiest path. That's it. "The exciting novelty of our study is that it shows this faster avoidance of physical inactivity comes at a cost — and that is an increased involvement of brain resources," said Matthieu Boisgontier who was the senior author. It's evolutionary that we conserve our physical strength for fight or flight responses, and use the more readily available resources of thought to plan our lives. And, for humans, it works extremely well. So we're not being lazy so much as choosing the strongest survival mode, as we watch fucking cat videos, and drink craft beer, in our pyjamas, while working from home. Behold the mighty!
So the trick is, really, to find the balance between dying alone on your couch covered in chip crumbs and drool while watching I Dream Of Jeannie reruns and working your ass off each day to build your own bungalow, compete in Ironman Triathlons, and do your own subsistence farming. So, balance. Yin-Yang. Here’s what that looks like, please follow along, you at the back, Dave!
The truth is you can be lazy and still be healthy, but you still have to take some action. Do important but difficult things like quit smoking, cut down or eliminate alcohol, walk farther and more often, and EAT BETTER! None of these require great mounds of physical or emotional resources, and you may actually find yourself more energetic and, maybe, even more likely to be less lazy, or not. But it's worth a try, says the friggin' life coach, who you should listen to, sometimes, like now, probably. Sheesh.
Also, try to find the things that you’re good at - areas of strength or expertise that you have - and focus on those. Take a good look at yourself and your skill set and really find the things that you can do well and that you enjoy. Then make some plans to leverage those strengths. You will likely end up with a better outcome then if you just picked an activity out of a catalogue, then you can give yourself some self-praise for the awesome work you did. As a bonus you will have used both your mental and physical resources to accomplish it. Then, repeat, as often as it takes to feel good about yourself, or until you die, whichever comes first.
And finally, use positive thinking and reinforcement instead of negative self-characterizations when you look at your accomplishments and activity levels. If you need the break, and you watch a bunch of back-to-back episodes of some stupid show, that does not need to be seen as wasting your time or being unproductive. We all need downtime and that looks different for all of us. Take the opportunities if and when you need to, and try not to judge yourself too harshly when you do. You can still give yourself some self-encouragement, and you can use the strategies outlined above, but just don’t be your own critic. Baby steps, good planning, less social media, and a more positive outlook will give you the space you need to be lazy, or less lazy. There’s more choices than that, but there we are.
Okay, so that’s it for this episode. As always, I’ll leave you with a Disgruntled nugget in a second, but first I want to thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, I’m on all the major platforms, and please visit www.disgruntledlifecoach.ca for all my podcasts – yes, still with the ridiculous w-w-w – sorry kids. Please also follow me on twitter @lifedisgruntled, there’s a link on my website – DM me if you want some stickers, really, free stickers. Free. Also, if you like what you’ve heard today, tell your friends. If you think this is ridiculous, still, tell your friends, I mean how hard is that?
The late President Ronald Reagan once said, “I've heard that hard work never killed anyone, but I say why take the chance?” Harold Ramis later put a more succinct and personal slant on this when he said, "I never work just to work. It’s some combination of laziness and self-respect." Still more to the point, Patrick Bennet said “Laziness is the first step towards efficiency.” So from this we learn that we should never work just to work, because it might kill us, and then the efficiency of working hard is the first step towards, something, I don't know, whatever...
Again, thanks for listening, and thanks also to Audionautix and Partners in Rhyme for music and sound FX, thanks again to Neatnik for visuals, and thanks for your patience - see you in two weeks, or not, whatever...