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In Defense of Laziness

Yikes, it’s August! Two-thirds of the summer is over. And as everyone knows, even if you don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the new year begins in September. September – when we all go back to school – make resolutions, get focused, go to work and gear up for the fourth quarter. But it’s not September yet so let’s spend the rest of the summer being lazy. Everybody is out of town anyway; no real work is getting done, so why not embrace it and be lazy!

It’s practically un-American to suggest that being lazy is a good idea. We often wear the badge of honor that reads, “I’m Working Hard and Very Busy.” Rarely do we hear or say “Actually, I’m not working that hard. I’m taking it easy.” And it is not just when we are officially referring to our work. It is also too often true for when we take time off. Admit it, how comfortable would you feel answering the question, “How was your weekend?” by saying “I did nothing, just relaxed; read a little; lay in my hammock and looked at the sky”? 

Even on weekends and vacation we so often feel compelled to fill every day with activities, travel, exercise, and getting delayed personal tasks done – even the currently popular “mindfulness” is a “to-do.” We want to feel productive even when we are so-called relaxing. There is nothing wrong with these activities. They are fun and bring benefits to our well-being, but we need to be careful not to feel obliged to fill every moment with something “useful.”

Our recreational activities should not eliminate room for laziness. What if instead we gave ourselves permission to do nothing and (gulp) risk boredom? Research tells us that our blood pressure will go down; our immune systems will strengthen; our mental health will improve. When we give our minds the space and time to simply relax and daydream, we begin to sort and process all the input our brains have received. We will begin to make connections that are not obvious – increasing both our self-awareness and creativity. A body that relaxes rejuvenates.

So I invite you to chill out, have a rest, unwind and take it easy. Do it for the sheer pleasure of being able to do so. Here are some ways I enjoy being lazy: 

  • Putting the cell phone in another room.
  • Taking a stroll (instead of a run).
  • Soaking in the bathtub or in the sun.
  • Lying in a hammock and looking at the sky.
  • Taking a nap.
  • Getting lost in a book that doesn’t promise self-improvement.
  • Petting a dog.

It was once said that progress is not made by early risers, but by lazy people trying to find easier ways to do things. So have fun this August.  Engage in any activities that bring you joy.  Just remember it is also OK to do nothing. See you in September.

If you are interested in how you might apply these concepts and other psychologically informed principles to solving the seemingly intractable problems in your organization, please contact me at joanne.irving@i2aa.com or (301) 943-3074.

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