Laziness is a symptom of a hyperproductive society

Rest is just as vital as performance.

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Courtesy of elizabeth lies on Unsplash

Brianna Clark, Opinions Editor

After a full week of grueling work, we sometimes reward ourselves with a lazy day on the weekend—a day where we do not worry about productivity. However, these days are often far from relaxing. In our work-oriented society, taking a day off can be a stressful endeavor. Our culture tethers us to our careers and the concept of productivity to the point where abstaining from those duties, even for a short while, evokes feelings of guilt and laziness.

We are so afraid of being labeled as lazy. The world tells us that those who are lazy do not deserve what they have because they did not work hard enough for it. We must dismantle this perception of laziness in our society, because no one should feel like they do not have intrinsic worth for not contributing “enough” to this world.

WHAT IS LAZINESS?

Psychology Today defines a lazy person as someone whose “motivation to spare himself effort trumps his motivation to do the right or expected thing.” There are many issues with this definition. To start, assigning laziness to a person’s identity as if it is a personal attribute diminishes their value in a society that determines value by efforts.

Additionally, this definition assumes that there is a standard for the “right and expected” amount of effort that we must live up to, yet does not define what that standard is. Not everyone can live up to the same level of effort. If the bare minimum is getting out of bed, making yourself a meal and practicing basic hygiene, then what does that say about disabled people who are unable to perform some of these tasks? Lastly, it denies any underlying problems that may be causing a person to display “lazy” behavior.

When our world consistently pushes us to expend more and more energy, needing a “lazy” day is OK in the face of burnout and lack of motivation, especially during a life-altering pandemic.

LATENT CONCERNS OF LAZINESS

For many, laziness is a result of fear, anxiety or depression—not a disconnected phenomenon. Marking someone as lazy often fails to acknowledge these struggles and serves as an insult without offering real solutions.

Motivation can be stunted by a plethora of obstacles, because we do not all function with the same form of motivation. Whether it stems from a lack of emotional or social support, a lack of self-discipline and self-esteem, fear of failure or rejection, or a sense of futility, these all require more thoughtful inspection and care to eventually solve the problem of decreased effort. Even lacking interest in a task is a valid excuse for being idle. As humans, we naturally avoid boring or menial endeavors. For those who do not have the mental strength of their own to push through responsibility, the solution should not be to badger them with “just do it,” but rather to find a new way to motivate them.

OVERCOMING LAZINESS

Different impediments of motivation require different solutions, but much of the time and power to mend our motivation rests in our own minds. Sometimes it is by separating our identities from the idea, and even symptoms, of laziness. For others, it may be positive self-talk that reassures them of their talents and capabilities. Many may need to address the underlying emotions of fear, anxiety and depression to relinquish the control they hold on their mental state.

While physical changes, such as setting small goals and adopting new work environments, are helpful—particularly for burnout—our brains also need us to take a step back occasionally. It is not lazy to take breaks and catch our breaths.

SELF-CARE IS NOT LAZINESS

Amid this pandemic, it is OK to take a step back and be “lazy.” We are not lesser people because we are exhausted and stressed. Living in unprecedented times calls for unprecedented reactions, but when we return to normal, we must remember that these breaks are not only justified now. As a society, we have consistently valued productivity over everything else and we need to shift toward a care for our minds and bodies outside of work.

We are not defined by our grades, our work ethic or our contribution to the public. God has given us intrinsic value. We can still be achievers without prioritizing achievement over all else.

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