Taking Liberty to be Lazy

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Exaggeration at times does add that special comic flavor and spice to a conversation. However, I am not guilty as charged. In no way have I inflated any of the facts in these anecdotes.

A mom once shared how she served canned peaches and oranges to her three-year-old twin boys because she felt lazy to cut fresh fruits. To ease the burden of mopping and sweeping the kitchen floor, someone I know went to the extent of spreading out plastic sheets on the ground that were cleared after each cooking session.

We had once given a ride to a young guy who had newly arrived in town and wanted to shop for linens. He chose brown bed sheets and towels and presented his theory for doing so. The fellow explained that stains and dirt would not easily show up on dark colors as opposed to lighter ones and that would save him the trouble of doing laundry for a good 3-month period.

If at any time I feel tired and wonder whether I am being idle to do anything, I immediately think about these solid examples and a few others. These folks are undoubtedly much lazier than I am and would qualify as lifetime members of the slothful club!

Laziness is by no means a virtue. No one enjoys visiting a stinking house that is always messy because the family is just too lazy to clean it. It’s a very annoying sight to see your child being a couch potato and binging on those snacks that you disapprove of so bitterly. We have always given those sermons to our kids to be active and to make proper use of time in order to shine in life.

Now as outrageous as it may sound, there are arguments in support of laziness. The idle now have an occasion to celebrate as science has discovered evidence that lazy people are likely to be smarter and more successful in life. If you are scandalized hearing about this, you are not alone. I was surprised too!

So what does research say? A recent article by Tom Popomaronis in CNBC discusses this issue at length. The author refers to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Health Psychology which hypothesizes that people who are less physically active tend to be brainier than physically active people. The rationale presented is that those with higher IQ get bored less easily, and as a result they happen to be less hyper and give a considerable amount of time to thinking. On the other hand, the highly active ones are those who get bored very easily when they have to sit still and observe their abstract thoughts. So rather than coming up with any creative ideas, they divert their minds with active tasks like sports and other physical activities.

It is believed that lazy people are supposedly strategic thinkers. With their reluctance to follow a long, round-about process, they come up with smart shortcuts that save time and eliminate wasteful actions.

Then there is this concept of “false laziness” which shatters the myth associated with certain people or activities. For instance, people who spend hours playing video games usually earn the tag of “lazybones” wasting their time in mindless activity. But we need to accept the fact that this action is not actually laziness because it requires the aptitude for problem solving and intelligent strategizing if one is to win the game.

In a rather intriguing article titled “Why Being Lazy is Actually Good For You,” Canadian author Chris Bailey shares his viewpoints in defense of laziness. He states that the attention of human beings is either focused or unfocused, and although it operates in a different way, unfocusing is no less powerful than focusing. Research shows that focusing causes one to be productive, while unfocusing leads one to be creative. Bailey points out that by indulging in laziness, the individual allows the brain to rest, which in the process helps in stirring the imagination. The attention of the idle mind is scattered, so one is more likely to think about his long term goals instead of being fixated just with the current state of affairs. Also, it is not the focused mind but rather the wandering mind that connects the three mental destinations of the past, the present, and the future, thus leading to the birth of creative insights.

So can we say that laziness, despite the stigma attached to its name, is not necessarily a crime? Of course we need to be willing to bend the rules a little and look at things from an unconventional perspective. Having said so, I also realize that it’s time for me now to put the disclaimer: “The doctrines in favor of laziness are not my own; I am simply sharing articles written by others that triggered my interest.” Under no circumstances do I have the desire to stir up a hornet’s nest by advocating laziness.

As a parent, I would definitely not want my child to be lazing around on the pretext that he’s indulging in a creative thinking process. Even otherwise with me not encouraging him, I have heard him say an umpteen number of times how lazy he feels to do some daily chores. But looking at life through a different lens, it sure makes me happy to think that I won’t be sinning or entering the devil’s workshop if I allow myself to be lazy once in a while.


  1. Very interesting. So glad to see justifications for laziness. Makes me feel good about all the times I’ve been lazy.

  2. Excellent post, Rashmi! I am certainly guilty of being lazy at times (and sometimes a little too often), but it’s good to know that it can be beneficial as well!

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