Evidence suggests that laziness doesn’t exist at all. Laziness exists only for the person throwing the stone, and not for the person at which the stone is cast.
Here, it’s simple: laziness isn’t real.
But a person’s uncommunicated or unknown blocks are very real indeed, especially if they’re quietly preventing progress and promoting procrastination.
Laziness as a concept hinges on what is actually a fake idea – constant and unrelenting production. As far as social psychology is concerned, and as with most clinical determinations in modern science, context matters.
This is because a situation’s characteristics are typically a better indication of what will happen than the personality traits of the person involved.
Now, we live in the Western world. There’s no denying that we move less, engage less, and rejuvenate less than our global counterparts.
If we weren’t thinking creatures, we could say that’s because Western culture encourages laziness. But since we are thinking creatures…
Let’s look a little bit closer.
The Macro Sense
If we step back and look at the context of our culture, we notice some glaring differences between it and cultures around the world.
For example, since restful time cannot be commoditized, it isn’t prioritized.
Think about phrases like “side hustle” and “gig economy’ and “passion project.” These all reference things you do in your spare time to make money. The “hobby” has gone the way of the white picket fence. Products of Western culture aren’t encouraged to engage in behavior that doesn’t drive the economy, personal and national, forward.
We also drive more, walk less, and sit constantly. Public transportation isn’t viable in most parts of the United States – partially because the space is just too big.
And we enjoy less time off. In the European Union, every country is required to offer 22 days of paid leave.
In the United States, the average private sector company offers 14 days.
Considering the context in which a culture can be called lazy or unmotivated matters.
Is Western culture lazy?
Or has the environment it cultivated shamed its citizens into production at the cost of our emotional and mental reserves, resulting in acute fear of failure and diminished energy and making procrastination a functioning problem rather than a moral failing?
The Micro Sense
Laziness is a mark against your permanent moral record. It’s the greatest sin you can commit in an unconsciously capitalistic society, and it bars you from further consideration.
With the aforementioned barriers, and every individual’s personal barriers, combined with the expectation to design a performative life…
The conclusion is simple. We’re too stressed to function.
When the body is stressed, due to internal or external factors, it releases the stress hormone – cortisol.
This begins what is called a negative feedback loop – we procrastinate. We know that is “wrong” and “bad”.
The body releases white blood cells and enough cortisol to balance their effect because your brain has sent the signal that it is upset. (Your body registers internal threats and external threats the same way – it could be fighting a disease or a predator, and white blood cells get sent along with cortisol.)
The more often this happens, the more your body gets used to the presence of cortisol. It stops registering it as a threat. If the body becomes resistant to cortisol, then the white blood cells roam unchecked, and cause inflammation in the body.
And inflammation does something funky to your brain. It rewires your neural pathways so that you feed the lower-reasoning centers of your brain and starve the prefrontal cortex – the bit that’s responsible for impulse control, empathy, and future planning.
Do that for long enough, and you train your brain how to function. “The neurons that fire together, wire together,” according to prominent neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter.
Let’s connect the dots.
A society which does not value rest, rejuvenation, unmonetized creativity, and physical communion with the rest of the world, fosters an unsettled, stressed-out, unnurtured, self-hating population.
Individuals functioning within this model find their motivations interfered with, their fear paralyzing, and their brains trained to react impulsively and without measured regard for future consequences.
“Laziness” as an idea is a myth.
A person cannot be born with laziness hard-coded into their DNA.
Procrastination and an inability to perform is a symptom, not an illness.
And the only cure for the real illness…
Is to make sure that you are nurtured in the specific way that you need to be.
And that you never forget that every person needs these three things, no matter what:
A rich and healthy diet. Physical exercise. And sweet, deep, restorative rest.
If you’d like more on this topic and to understand how to cultivate a life where there is time to attend to all parts of life and still feel whole, watch this video.