laziness doesn’t really exist

Why are people lazy? Actually, let me rephrase that. Why do people give up on their goals and settle for the minimum? “Lazy” is a term we hear over and over again, but what human genuinely desires to put in the least amount of effort? Theoretically, if we care, we will put in the effort.

That theory doesn’t always hold up though. There are plenty of situations where we do care and technically have the time but we still take the ‘lazy’ option. It’s terrifying to think about how often we become okay with the minimum. And we are okay with this minimum because it’s exhausting to go above and beyond.

This is a bit of a radical position, but I’m here to defend it: few to no people are actually lazy.

The main distinction between those who are determined and work hard versus those who slack off is that those who work hard have figured out how to handle their own emotions. Everyone has things they have to do that they don’t want to, and we also all have things that we care about. “Lazy” people, of course, have things they care about. It’s rarely a lack of desire and more of a lack of self-trust. To put yourself out there takes courage. It takes drive, and it’s risky. Doing the minimum feels safer.

Self-discipline and self-trust are emotional skills, and they take time to build up. One builds up self-discipline by doing things. Doing things takes commitment and being okay with failure. Self-trust is the same, it takes commitment to yourself and again, being okay with failure.

Whatever we do or don’t do is a result of how we feel. Sure, rationality is an important mediating factor, but we will find a way to justify our actions in some manner, no matter what route we take. Even if you are trying to go after the most ‘rational’ answer, you are beginning the search with an emotional basis and social context. We should research what we can, make sure we have the full picture of the situation, etc., but our emotions aren’t something to fear. Having emotions is what gives us the drive and purpose in our lives in the first place.

When it comes to laziness then, “Oh, go pull yourself together”, isn’t going to be useful advice for most people. Learning to trust yourself and follow through on the promises you make to yourself is a pretty massive undertaking. It requires confidence and acceptance of risk. It’s a big deal, especially for those who don’t have the highest self-esteem to begin with.

If you have difficulty being self-motivated and getting things done then, try to look within yourself. Forgive yourself. Be patient with yourself. Start with little things, and build up your own trust in yourself. Change is difficult but worth it.

 

Photo creds: Enya Callibuso

drifting in and out of loneliness

People drift in and out of our lives. We can try to hold on to varying degrees, but sometimes people just lose touch.

We are physical beings, and proximity has far more of an impact than we realize. Radical as this may sound, that’s okay. Sometimes we need to be around particular people, they teach us lessons and hopefully, we help them, and then we part ways.

There’s that line of thought that we are the sum of the five people we are closest to. It makes sense that we want to hold onto people who, in some way, are a part of us. Yet, we change, life goes on, and so the people around us end up changing also.

One of the downsides of letting people leave and enter our lives is that if a rough time hits us in a moment of transition, we can feel alone.

You are not. You’re just stuck in a mindset where it’s easy to feel like there’s no one out there who can understand. But if millions of people feel like no one understands, the likelihood is that, yes, someone does, you just haven’t run into them yet, and the good news is that there is so many of us on the planet we’re overwhelming the planet.

Things change, for better sometimes, for worse others, but far more often than both of those is change itself. If we stop expecting our ideas of situations to fall out exactly into predetermined categories, we may be able to enjoy them more.

If you think a situation will be absolutely terrible, of course, it will be. If you think a situation will be fun, it probably will be. Our mindset works like a self-fulfilling prophecy at times, and sometimes even happy expectations can let us down.

As to say, things may or may not turn out like we expect, so try not to expect too much. Be prepared, but be open. Let people go, let things go, and let them in so we can appreciate every moment we have to the fullest.

the bogeyman commitment

There is such a power in routine. Doing something every day takes will power, takes focus, takes a commitment to your values. When we do go out of our way every single day to accomplish some task, that’s meaningful. Even if we don’t view that thing as important or relevant to us, our consistent actions make us a lot of who we are.

The best time to carry out a habit is in the morning because that’s when your will power is strongest. Then habits are easier when we carry them out in the same way. For example, at the same time, in the same order of events, and in the same place. Finally, the best way to continually stick to a habit is if you do it. We can overthink ourselves into giving up anything. By dreading and displaying contempt for a task, we make carrying out that task 1000% more difficult. Another bonus of forming a habit in the morning is that you are so mentally groggy, you don’t have to mental capacity to talk yourself out of it after that first initial phase of deciding to do it.

My advice is to form a good habit. It doesn’t have to be massive or incredibly important, just this task you carry out every day. And by forcing yourself to do this every day, we train our pysche to better handle consistency and sticking to our promises. It grows our will power. Then eventually, we can train ourselves to do bigger, harder things in the evening. Commitment is something that a lot of people struggle with. That’s okay. But making efforts to try and turn that around can change how we view ourselves and how we view our goals.

keep your eyes open

It’s easy to drudge from day to dull day. The regular routines we follow typically aren’t exciting. We get up, work, eat, maybe have a tiny bit of fun, and then go back to sleep. However, a lot of the dread we have around work is a monster we’ve created ourselves.

We struggle throughout most of lives, so how can we find joy in that? By changing our perspective as much as we can, and if need be, our circumstances. There is always something we can do to make life a little brighter. When I say dread is a monster we create, I don’t mean that we can somehow snap our fingers, change our attitude and float away on a magicial pink cloud. No matter what we do, sometimes life sucks. However, we can make it seem worse than it is when we constantly think to ourselves, “I don’t want to do this, there’s no meaning in this, I just want to go home…” Wherever you are, you’re there. You exist in that location. This is a part of your life, and it can be just as precious as any other part of your life. Focus on the good things to get you through, to distract you as much as you can, even if you have to start being thankful for dandelions in the sidewalk.

If the situation is really that bad, then get out of there. That’s not always possible, but it may be more possible than you realize. We often convince ourselves that things lie in a certain fixed pattern and there’s nothing we can do to change that. However, is it? Look at where you are again. Research your options. Talk to other people, maybe there’s a solution you’re missing.

At the end of the day, yes it’s just another day. But it’s also another day of your life. We may be experts at making ourselves miserable, but we don’t have to stay that way. Slowly, we can change our outlook on life. Maybe we can’t escape a situation just yet, but that won’t always be the case. Have hope! Keep your eyes open.

making a good plan

It is good to have a plan. It’s helpful when that plan is well thought out. However, the most effective plans are the ones you’ve both thought through and carried out. If you say that you want to be more healthy and make a plan to run every day, you should run every day. If you say you’re going to do something far in the future, like be a programmer, you should start learning right now. The bottom line is that if you don’t do what you need to right now, how are all the other “right now”s going to be different?

When we look at our lives and want something different or better or both, that is the first step. We need to look and be honest with ourselves about what we want to change. This can be open and vague at first, but put your finger on what’s causing your dissatisfaction. Then, get specific. What about this is making you feel unhappy and frustrated with your state in life? Is this worth changing to you? Then the big one: this problem, whatever it is, matters to you, so how are you going to fix it? Research people with similar problems and see what seems to be the best solution for them. Look at your resources and what you can reasonably expect yourself to do. Then assume you’ll do about half of what you think you’ll reasonably do.

With the plan in place, there’s no more excuses you can give that will ring sincere. Perhaps extraordinary life events will get in the way, but these sorts of things are rare. You know what you have to do. Whatever it is, there will be reservations. Being human, we question things. We want to make sure we’re spending our time wisely. This is a good instinct, and can be extremely helpful! However! Before you shirk out, stick to your plan. Commit to it for at least a month. If you hate it, it’ll be a practice in self control. Yet look at your life and honestly evaluate if it’s making it better, if it’s making you into a better person.

Plans are wonderful, but we have to stick to them. If we change our minds suddenly before we get anything done, all we’ve accomplished is wasting our time. Even if you’re unsure, stay with it and teach yourself to commit. You can do this.

an interest in having an interest

If events change so your original plan doesn’t work out, you change the plan. The way you get there matters, morally, but in terms of fun and interest? There’s plenty of ethical ways to get to your goals, we just can’t always see them. That’s why its good to keep our minds open! Many successful people are successful because they’re able to connect with other people.

The bottom line is that socializing may always be hard for some people, but think about how much that difficulty can be minimized! Talking with anyone is a matter of knowing their language. You should hopefully be speaking the same language broadly, but I also mean in terms of understanding your perspective and ideas.

Some people need a short story to see how you emotionally came to a conclusion. Other times we need to introduce a foreign topic that’s deep inside a discipline in a simplified manner. Or, we may need to pick up what the other person means. Does “in a minute” mean in 30 seconds, after I’m done with this other problem, or never? They may say vague things that you’re not sure are relevant to your task. That’s why it’s so key, in the ambiguous and challenging art of conversation, to be tactful, respectful, but also honest.

If you don’t know, ask them what they mean. Ask for an example! Explain where you’re coming from and be willing to work to understand where they’re coming from. The magic skill in conversation? Listening. Pull out the major point they’re saying and ask them a thoughtful question about it (make sure its something that they haven’t answered, or haven’t discussed in great depth) on their take of it, or why they think it’s important. Somehow reaffirm what they’re saying, maybe repeat it back to confirm you’re thinking the same thing. Ask questions and then truly listen. Make social connections! Plans change, but good friends are constant.

please please you

We overlook an important factor when we say, “Don’t try to please other people”, and that factor is that we have to live with people. To some extent, we do have to adjust our behaviors to fit into the norm. For example, we typically are pressured to wear clothes, be hygenic, etc. However, more than that, we have a mighty desire to get along with people! And part of getting along with someone is pleasing them to a certain degree. While these are all important facts, there still remains that feeling that giving your life to “please everyone” is wrong.

We are social, caring, and relatively altrustic creatures. It makes sense to do something for another person so that they are more pleasing to you. Yet we can get too caught up in it. We can give and give and not want to express our true feelings for fear that the relationships we have will change too dramatically. It’s way easier to scream and make a scene on your last day of work then on your first, and the reason is that (assuming they don’t fire you) you’ll have to live with everyone afterward. Whether we want to admit it or not, being yourself and expressing your opinions is a risky activity. It provides space for crtique, for disappointments, conflict!

But without conflict, critique, or disappointment, we cannot grow. We should aspire to be respectful in whatever situation to make it smoother and facilitate understanding, but people are going to disagree. If you take a risk and say what you think, sure, you might ruin a relationship or make it awkward. But being in a true, geniune relationship of any kind requires honesty. If it’s awkward, you’ll eventually figure it out and be better for it. If it ruins the relationship itself, there was likely something missing in the first place. The relationships we have with other people should be sincere. Not being true to yourself hurts you but also the integrity of your bonds. So take the risk! Express yourself and be assertive! You can do such great things!

our brains are Transformers, if you roll it out the right way

Our brains are not static blobs of muscle in our head. They are dynamic, plastic, growing pieces of us that literally change everyday of our lives. Each action we take, each bit of information we take in, it becomes a part of us. We learn by our neurons changing their network in slight ways, making pathways easier or harder to follow. That’s amazing. If you haven’t thought about it in a while, just take a moment here. Pathways are making us who we are right now. Nothing about our bodies are static. It’s awe-inspiring, really.

Sometimes we have horrible days, and there’s not much we can do to fix that. Then there’s the good days that we cherish and are grateful and greedy for. However, a lot of times, we just have ordinary days; we have the sort of days no one remembers the date of. From doldrum to doldrum, life can become weary. Yet, even when the day means nothing to us in the big picture, it is affecting us in our neural pathways. We learn, grow, and attach new information to a vast world of connections within us. That’s why it can be easy to forget how much we’ve changed– we don’t often change in an instant. Rather, we most commonly develop slowly, through an accumulation of little nothing-to-remember-about days.

That’s why every day matters. At the start, we never truly know what it’ll turn out. As much as our brains have changed and grown to that point, we could break the pattern we think we’re falling into. Our minds are brilliant for predicting things, but there are always pieces we don’t account for. That uncertainty is surely frightening! And yet, it also matters so much. No, not every day is spectacular. Yet, every moment we are given is open to the possibility of changing for the better. Sure, things could go wrong. Things could be dull. But if you think it’s going to turn out that way, why don’t you try and do something to change that? If you’re going to change anyway, make it for the better.

today is your Rubber Soul

The Beatles are the most influential band ever. There have been other, very important, very famous individuals, and individuals who weren’t famous enough, but The Beatles blow them all away. They managed to change the face of rock, change what music could even be! Yet my personal favorite Beatles album isn’t the marvelous Abbey Road, but Rubber Soul.

Rubber Soul was a defining moment in Beatles history. Before, they had been mimicking the rest of the bands at the time, wearing matching uniforms, bowing in unison, and sounding fun but shallow. Rubber Soul began the major experimentation and play with how they sounded. They had managed to cause mass, hysterical love all over the world of their music, and here they decided to start creating things that were sometimes weird. They began messing with the technology of sound and taking risks, doing things people hadn’t really delved into before.

When something works, we want to stick with it. It’s safe, it is an algorithm we begin to depend on. Why fix what isn’t broken? But at the same time, nothing stays the same. Everything moves and changes beyond our control. Yet through that whirlwind of change, what we are challenged to do is grow. Each day we are given the opportunity to either become one-hit wonders, who cling onto old trends and let things pass them by, or take risks and begin something history-altering. The past is past. Rubber Soul isn’t the best Beatles album, but they needed that experimentation to create the amazing things they did later on.

mind to body, body to mind

Our bodies and feelings are connected, not in some mystical, intangible way, but in a manner that directly affects our everyday life. Smiling makes us more prone to becoming happy, punching things makes us angry, and nodding your head yes makes you more likely to agree; many times our physical actions reaffirm our emotions and make them more powerful. While we like to think of our minds as powerful rudders that guide our bodies, our emotions and physicality are more like two oars on the same boat. 

Thoughts mean nothing by themselves. Yet, because they are connected to our bodies, they mean everything. Sure, thinking about killing your boss might not make you kill them. However, it would be foolish to assume that the culmination of those negative thoughts doesn’t impact you. Where we focus is what we value. What we value is what we end up putting our time and effort into. What this means is that you can’t say you value honesty and spend most of your time lying. You can’t say you value kindness and be cruel to people don’t do what you want them to. You can’t say tomorrow you’ll be different if you didn’t put in the effort today.

Or rather, you can’t act in that hypocritical way and expect anything to change. The basis of solving or changing anything is realizing there is a problem. Only by seeing the mistakes you’ve made can you begin to fix it. If you truly want to be better, you have to begin thinking the right way and acting the right way. If you really care, that will come out in how you behave. And you can do this! It’s terrifying to admit your errors. Looking at where you are and where you want to be is like staring up at some colossal giant who’s ready to smash you under their heel. But Jack Beanstalk is the hero at the end of the day. If you want to make a difference, you can. You do it a little bit at a time, making little changes, slowly but surely becoming better than who you were before.