sex, money, and miscellany: talking about what matters

lazy

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Lazy. It’s a seriously loaded word. it carries the worst connotations of sloth (one of the seven deadly sins) and indolence, with maybe a hint of malice. It’s usually applied in two ways: either I’m feeling lazy which is a gentle, indulgent excuse to sit still for another ten minutes, or she is so lazy, which means, “she’s wasting other people’s resources because she can’t be bothered to be a contributing member of society.”

On this, I have a fairly unpopular opinion. I think lazy is generally not what we really mean. When someone says they are feeling lazy, what it means is, “I’m feeling relaxed and at ease. I feel pleasure and a lack of stress.” But we’re not supposed to feel that without working ourselves to the bone, so we have to be disparaging about it. AND I think when people say someone else is lazy, what they really mean is, “I think I work harder than they do for the same or less payoff and I resent that.”

So here’s a thought: if you’re feeling that resentment or choosing to be disparaging, what if you’re the one with the problem?

What if you’re working too hard? I don’t mean too-hard-relative-to-them. Who knows what means they’re using to work the amount they’re working. Unethical, illegal, or exploitative means of reducing workload aren’t good for you, the planet, or society. But just looking at yourself–are you working too hard? Are you happy with the amount of effort you put in? Would you feel better if you worked less? Would you feel better if you worked at something different?

Even learning, I’ve discovered, usually feels good when one’s tactic is right. Math was never easy for me, but I’ve discovered that geometry was the gateway, I’m a kinesthetic learner, and that song lyrics stick with me for decades. So I should have been memorizing songs with the multiplication tables, physically rearranging things, and working in terms of shapes and logic and proofs, not in terms of memorizing formulae. Wish I’d known that when I was ten.

I wasn’t lazy, but I did resent the amount of effort (huge) I put in for the amount of payoff (tiny) in studying math.

It’s like sex. You can have good sex that takes a ton of effort, or you can have good sex that feels like no work at all. Sometimes the effort feels good–and sometimes it doesn’t. There’s no objective reality: more effort=bad or less effort=good. It’s just right-effort-for-this-moment, or wrong-effort-for-this-moment. If you’re working really really hard at something and it feels wrong odds are your strategy is wrong.

Humans are naturally inclined to do stuff; finding the right stuff, and the best strategy, are key to happiness.

So these are the questions:
What in your life feels too hard–too hard to be sustainable? Your gut knows when something isn’t working. Listen to it.
Do you think it’s a good use of your time and talent? Does it line up with what you believe in?
Would you like it to be easier? Do you need help finding better strategies?
Or would you rather do something entirely different?

It’s your life. It’s your choice. Go ahead. Choose.

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