The Art of Laziness

Laziness is often considered a flaw in human behavior. Growing up I was told idle hands would get into trouble, so keeping busy was applauded. This blog is not about people who refuse to contribute in any way, which is unhealthy laziness. This blog is about healthy laziness that promotes balance. The art of laziness is the ability to rethink productivity, create boundaries, practice flexibility, take breaks, and focus on what is most important.

A change in the way we think about busy days and relaxation may be overdue, because science is proving laziness is actually good for us. Science tells us that when we’re relaxed, we’re more innovative, we focus better, and creativity is higher. Bill Gates writes, “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job, because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” This means a healthy laziness can make us more effective and efficient.

Think about historic Ben Franklin, who is thought of as a hard-working person. Here is how he describes himself, “I’m the laziest person in the world. I invented all those things to save myself from toil.” Perhaps there is some natural laziness in all of us, otherwise we wouldn’t have computers, microwaves, or remote controls. An article in The New York Times concluded that over working actually hinders productivity.

Laziness improves our health by lowering blood pressure. An afternoon nap on the sofa reduces stress and refreshes both body and mind. Stress induced inflammation is lowered which produces a calming effect on skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and rosacea. Relaxing improves our night time sleep so we wake with improved memory, and sharper thinking skills. Science now supports that keeping fit can be achieved with short, intense workouts instead of long periods of exercise. Strategic laziness helps our minds to wander freely, allowing the most insightful ideas to emerge. It’s also a sure way to prevent burnout, which can happen at home as well as at work.

Laziness helps our emotional intelligence because it gives us time to reflect and become more self-aware. When needed, it helps us apologize more effectively. We also become more sensitive to social cues from other people, so we see their emotional state more accurately. This improves our ability to create needed boundaries, enhance communication, and clarify problems.  Drama is avoided because lazy people don’t want to spend time gossiping or arguing. Healthy laziness improves relationships.

Our focus is improved with laziness because our concentration is on eliminating irrelevant activities, and simplifying our day. We relieve ourself from the tyranny of the urgent so only what is vital gets attention. There’s no need to micromanage anything because a relaxed person knows how to either let it go, or delegate. Instead of an insatiable need to stay busy, downtime is embraced, creating time for reflection and a deeper appreciation of the present moment.

Chris Bailey, author of Hyperfocus, writes, “I don’t mean laziness in the sense of filling each moment with mindless distraction. I mean proper idleness when we choose to do nothing.” Distractions are everywhere, but we can choose to ignore them and put our physical and mental feet up. When we do this, we restore our energy, unnecessary tasks disappear, we connect with our guiding intuition, and practice flexibility.

These are only some of the advantages of practicing the art of laziness. Whatever is going on in our life, our worth is not dependent on how many tasks we do each day. We can actually accomplish more by doing less. This is true whether our activities are limited because of illness, or we’re the caregiver keeping a household together. When we focus on the essential, we can let everything else go. It’s a balanced day that promotes health on all levels. I’m suggesting we give ourselves daily permission to practice the art of laziness, so we can go with the flow instead of getting stuck in stress. The following poem is an invitation to rest and reprioritize.

LET YOURSELF REST – by Jeff Foster

If you’re exhausted, rest.

If you don’t feel like starting a new project, don’t.

If you don’t feel the urge to make something new,

just rest in the beauty of the old, the familiar, the known.

If you don’t feel like talking, stay silent.

If you’re fed up with the news, turn it off.

If you want to postpone something until tomorrow, do it.

If you want to do nothing, let yourself do nothing today.

Feel the fullness of the emptiness, the vastness of the

silence, the sheer life in your unproductive moments.

Time does not always have to be filled.

You are enough, simply in your being.


Until Next Time – Sylvia

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