📙Reflection: Laziness Does Not Exist (Pt. 1) – The “Not Enough” Disease

Browsing through books to read, this title caught my attention. It’s a relatively recent book, published in January 2021 by a social psychologist.

For Kim, who taught me that if a person’s behaviour doesn’t make sense, it’s because I’m missing a piece of their context.


Few words from the introduction:

I have a reputaion as a productive person, but that reputation has cost me a lot. […] If I said I was going to be at an event, I’d be there. If a friend needed help […] I was available. Behind that veneer of of energy and dependability I was a wreck.

[…] I was forever spreading myself too thin, dragging myself from obligation to obligation, thinking my lack of energy made me unforgivably “lazy”.


Sound familiar?


Details from the book

Overworked, not “Lazy”

📝 Throughout the book, the author makes this argument:

No matter how much we’ve accomplished or how hard we’ve worked, we never believe we’ve done enough to feel satisfied and peace. We never think we deserve a break. Through all the burn-outs, stress-related illnesses, and sleep-deprived weeks we endure, we remain convinced that having limitaions makes us “lazy” – and that laziness is always a bad thing.

This worldview is ruining our lives.

Introduction: How I Learned I Wasn’t Lazy

Why the current view on “laziness” is damaging for people

🟥 Lack of boundaries. People get used to not listening to their bodies, taking care of their health, or relationships, because they have a hard time drawing a boundary between work and personal lives. There is always this feeling of “I could be doing more”. Then they burn out and “become lazy”.

⚒️ The need to work harder. Sometimes people can’t even afford to take a break. They must push past healthy limits just to survive or have a place to live at.

💔 Lack of compassion. Society (mainly the US and cultures globally influenced by US ideals) doesn’t have much patience for people viewed as lazy, as it considered a moral flaw.

For example, people who are depressed and can’t work, or students who learn differently and have a hard time at school, are viewed as lost causes and (moral) failures. After being labelled as “lazy” people don’t really have the incentive to help them. Such people end up staying stuck.

🙅 Individualism over collectivism. A lot of media, including YouTube content, and children’s shows (he included in Harry Potter, and Avatar: The Last Airbender too! 😔😢) promote the idea of becoming successful based on hard work, and personal grit and strength, when in reality collaboration is needed, and can be much healthier too.

Apparently this is actually the remnant of the propaganda campaigns done during the Industrial Revolution Era to keep slaves busy without compensation😬

Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

🤒Impact on health and recovery time. The author mentioned how he started to have these realizations only after he got chronically sick after a not resting to recover from a flu, along with many other people caught up in this web, one of whom had her gallbladder destroyed because of overworking.

⌛He also mentioned the online death of a streamer after they were sleep deprived from 22-hour long streaming. Those who made it alive, it was only after losing the ability to keep working that they realized the value of slowing the pace of their lives and not overextending themselves from the fear of not doing enough.

🪤 Not knowing how to make yourself stop.

I used to work to the point of exhaustion and illness, and had no idea how to make myself stop. Intellectually, I knew I was doing too much, but my fear of missing a deadline or seeming lazy kept me plugging away without breaks. I didn’t learn to change my ways until overwork utterly destroyed my health.


🎙️Personal Experience

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is such an interesting point. Not knowing how to make yourself stop.

Work Overload. A few years ago, I was also in a similar position. I had a full course load for my university, and I was also involved in a number of extra-curricular activities to build up my profile for future applications so I could compete with a number of excellent candidates. On my way to and back from university I would listen to study material instead of chilling out, because I didn’t have enough time in my schedule.

I was also taking non-university classes, I didn’t feel knowledgable and well-rounded enough. Then I tried to fit in sports because I didn’t feel I was physically active enough. Which (obviously) failed because my schedule was filled up to the brim and I felt too exhausted to continue. It was so hard for me to break away from these things because I didn’t know what to give up on. Everything seemed important. Even then, when I looked at others I saw the things I was not doing. That made me want to work even harder.

Burnout Begins. Slowly, it got harder and harder for me to complete simple tasks, or to pay attention in lectures because my mind and body were exhausted. One day I found myself unable to read anymore. It was too taxing on my brain.

Like many people mentioned in this book, I also thought I was being lazy and needed to push myself. Thankfully, I got a break and a chance to rest and refresh during the COVID quarantine. It took quite a long time to recover however, as it does when you’ve been pushed to the brink.

❤️‍🩹 Lesson Learned. it doesn’t many how many expectations you are juggling, your own or other people’s, in the end you’re the one who’ll pay the tax of your health. No one else. Better take care of it.

Y’all need some rest | Photo by Ihsan Adityawarman on Pexels.com

🧠 THE SOLUTION: Beware of “Not Enough”

Whenever I feel compelled to take on a new activity, I check in with myself to see if I’m doing it because I’m feeling “not enough” once again.

If so, I’ll stop myself from taking immediate action. I’ll put it in my “goals wishlist” instead. I have also identified a few key goals that I will not compromise on for the sake of my wellness. Keep it simple.

Naming the Monster 👹

Dr. Price names this feeling, this need to do more and more, and ignoring your body’s signals to stop and rest:

The Laziness Lie.

The Laziness Lie is a deep-seated, culturally held belief system that leads many of us to believe to the following:

– Deep down I’m lazy and worthless

– I must work incredibly hard, all the time to overcome my inner laziness

– My worth is earned through my productivity

– Work is the center of life

– Anyone who isn’t accomplished and driven is immoral


🤔 Conclusion & Questions

There is much more in this book that I didn’t get to discuss yet. I’m also interested in seeing if the author will discuss which situations there are where one SHOULD push themselves and sacrifice their comforts for a bit.

What if I have a friend who keeps cancelling on me last minute for the sake of self-care when I also sacrificed my comfort to show up for them?

What if I have a teammate who keeps missing their work with poor communication? Now other teammates have to work harder to make up for it. How can people, who are on the receiving end of another person not being able to show up to task deal with it?

I’d like to read further and see if there’s any discussion on this.


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