We have an obsession with productivity. Every aspect of human existence is covered by hacks. We can hack a lot of jobs and relationships. Many of us are obsessed with efficiency. Our constant search for peak productivity distracts us from productivity in and of itself…
When I began to grapple with my own mental health, I became aware of the idea that one should just “buck up”, and get on with things. The advice was to just do more stuff. This is an obvious argument in a world where we are all driven to do more, when we see someone who isn’t. It seems like the obvious counter. It doesn’t work for someone who is depressed, having commitments, activities and routine can help prevent depression and keep things moving. In a low, lashing yourself with guilt for not doing anything will do very little. Is that person being lazy or depressed?
What is the answer for that person who doesn’t move at the same pace? For whom doing anything seems difficult? Who never seems to be interested in anything?
It is something else entirely. The lazy person doesn’t seem to mind that they are that way. It is easy. They are going for easy.
I have written many times about depression and how to deal with it. When a person is out of the worst part of the cycle, we can differentiate between laziness and actual problems. I think it is hard to be okay with being depressed for most people. They are unhappy, but they also want to know that there is another option if they are truly in the lowest part of the cycle, and that they can potentially work towards a better place. This isn’t something that can be imagined at the lowest point. If someone is suicidal, they aren’t thinking about changing their depression, they’re thinking about what will give them the most immediate relief. Depression is very painful.
It is difficult to tell the difference between depression and laziness. Only you, as an individual, can ask yourself questions and face reality. Are you dealing with a mental health problem or have you always shown a tendency to be lazy? People don’t become lazy overnight. How likely were you to finish school? Do you keep up hobbies? How often do you see a project through to completion, or do you keep working on it until you feel like you have accomplished something? Are you looking for the first chance to start a new activity? Are you always picking up new hobbies? Do you leave things unfinished? So, first of all, engage in some direct self reflection.
Break the baseline down into parts. If the world seems a bit more grey than it should, and things have been getting darker, harder to deal with, then you might be experiencing low mood and even depression. You need to understand that and how to take care of yourself in that mode.
Take up meditation. You can find a type of exercise that you enjoy. Take these things one step at a time, and practice self-compassion as you experiment. Write down what works and what doesn’t work.
We need to eat healthy, exercise and sleep in order to have the energy to do what we want. When should you be getting into bed each night? How can you make sure that you do it? Do you need to keep a routine at night? In the morning? One alarm and I am up. You need to learn how to make mornings work for you. It doesn’t mean that you have to cram in an entire second life before work. I personally do that, but I love mornings. If you aren’t a morning person, then work with it.
There are values. They are everything. The process of figuring out your core values is very important to me. It can come from an inability to focus on what you need to do, or there is so much to do that you feel paralyzed. It’s important to take a breath and step back. Where your values truly lie should be the place where you should be paying attention. There is a better chance that you will be able to get moving again. It is the fog of laziness and an inability to prioritize that can become easy stopping points. Determine where your focus should be.
Sometimes it is just fear in disguise, as in the case of ‘laziness’. You are afraid to do something because you might fail. It is time to face your fears.
Is it okay to die wondering? When I look back on it, what will my life look like? The idea that I might get old and die without ever trying was frightening more than any of the other fears I had. I need to write. I wanted to know my own currency.
I know what that is like. It was intimate. Living that way is not good. It is a good way to feel uneasy and guilty. We can bite the bullet and commit to doing the thing that scares us the most. It comes down to this, if you really want to live life the way you want to.
First thing, do one thing. So…
There is one thing you can do to move in the direction of your values. It will be difficult to stop sitting around and find excuses to do what you want. Don’t text your friends, put down the game. Think about what you want to do with your life. What are the values I hold? What can I do to change them? Even if it’s just starting to make a list. Start.
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