Is “lazy” a four-letter word in your house? So many of us, especially in the United States, hate the idea of laziness or being unproductive. We fill every second of our (and our childrens’) days with to-dos, work, and judging — no, resenting — others for taking a more relaxed approach. Those relaxed people? Yeah, they know a secret you don’t. They know the hidden benefits of laziness and if they weren’t so relaxed, they might judge you back. Don’t worry! I’m gonna let you in on their secret.
First, let’s explore why you may avoid laziness. You probably hold a generations-deep belief that laziness is bad and taking a break is lazy, therefore, taking a break is bad. This belief can cause real anxiety every time you opt for a break. Maybe you fear you’ll never be productive again. (HINT: This is a fantasy, especially for those of you who have always been productive.) Maybe your self-esteem hinges on how many things you check off your to-do list each day, meaning you question your self-worth if you have a less productive day. Point is, you’re probably not avoiding laziness itself; you’re probably avoiding the anxiety and low-self esteem that accompanies taking a break.
So, here’s the secret that “lazy” people know: taking a break can be more productive than staying busy. Laziness-averse people often make themselves as busy as possible to avoid their negative feelings. They spend precious energy that could otherwise be put toward more productive things, like connecting with their loved ones or being creative. Ever wonder why you get your best ideas in the shower or in the car? Quiet time is rich territory for novel insights, and by giving yourself space, you provide the best conditions for your inner creative genius to appear. The most creative people are the most comfortable with down time.
Now, this isn’t to suggest you get a hall pass to skip work or pay the bills, but if you’re a type-A person who can’t close the computer at night to spend time with your family, you need to ask yourself why. If you’re bringing work with you on vacation, you need to ask yourself if you’re missing out on the benefits of relaxation. Is that last email worth it? Is taking things to the next level going to be fruitful? How fruitful?
If you’re staying busy just to stay busy, it’s time to free some mental space and physical energy for something more productive.
To your emotional health,