The Benefits of Laziness
A recent conversation with a parent left me pondering our interpretation of “laziness” and its place in our society. A quick check of the dictionary definition gave some interesting word choices associated with “laziness.”
*not active or in use
*absence of significant activity
*the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy
Which brings me to my next point: who gets to decide the definition of “work” and “meaningful”? What is lazy and pointless to one person might be useful and meaningful to the next, and our definition and understanding of laziness affects how we view people and activities.
I have heard parents complain about their children being “lazy” because they spend time watching television or playing video games. The child’s sense of worth is only as developed as his ability to do chores around the house or make money. Yet many cultures have a better understanding of “laziness” as a necessary part of rest and relaxation than Americans do. They have a tendency to enjoy life more and even live a little longer than we do.
Before we went overseas we had to complete the famous Myers-Briggs test, which believe it or not typecast me as the wrong personality type. The reason was I had learned to cope/adapt/adjust in a world where organized, overachieving, workaholics are the norm so anyone who didn’t fit in was considered lazy. I was burning myself out trying to be something I wasn’t. When I realized this, my whole perspective on work and laziness transformed. I no longer had to feel guilty for spending time reading or watching a movie or simply enjoying the sunset. Artistic wasn’t lazy; it was just different.
Perspective plays a large role in our understanding of laziness, as well. I know way too many adults who feel guilty for taking a day off or not spending every single minute of their day being “productive.” It also affects how they view others: if you aren’t actively engaged in work, then you are by definition “lazy.”
In a culture that doesn’t observe a day of rest once a week (we fill our Sundays with activities and busyness to the point we return to work exhausted), we need more “lazy” times during our week. Our creative batteries need recharging weekly. Our emotional storage tanks need to be refilled every seven days. Perhaps it’s why we see such an increase in alcohol and drug abuse. Humans need coping mechanisms and if we aren’t resting, we can’t cope.
Bottom line: everyone’s need for rest manifests itself in different ways. Fifty years ago, children actually had “free” play, few organized sports, spent the summer swimming in the lake and watering holes, and catching fireflies in the evening.
With every minute of their day “organized” by adults is it any wonder they need some serious time chilling in front of a television or video game?