Yesterday I spent the whole afternoon being lazy. I embraced sloth in all of its beauty. And I did it with full awareness, knowing that I was doing something deep and relevant, something I need in order to be at my best.
I used to judge myself every time I felt like just being “lazy.” The world needs to be saved, I would say to myself, or, I need to get enlightened.
An important objective was always looming in the distance, and a minute of inactivity felt like a minute wasted.
With some notable exceptions, most of us carry a heavy negative judgment toward laziness. We have been conditioned, in varied ways, to be responsible and productive members of society. We are evaluated for our productiveness, which we measure in different ways. Apparently, the size of our bank account is the most notable indicator of success, and being lazy isn’t supposed to be the best way to make more money.
This frame of mind, strongly biased in favor of productivity and activity, is one of the factors that make our lives stressful and disharmonious. It isn’t a surprise that times of torpor, laziness, or sickness are an agony for many.
Ironically, it wasn’t until I discovered that laziness could be “productive” that I could start getting rid of those judgments.
I began to observe that, in those rare occasions where I would allow myself a full “lazy” day—a day where I would just follow my intuition and do whatever I pleased—I would notice a surge in productivity the next days. This makes perfect sense; everyone needs to rest once in a while to keep productivity, right?
But I discovered it was something deeper than that. Allowing myself a “lazy day” wasn’t just making me more productive; it was recharging my energy on a subtler level.
First of all, I noticed that the trick of being lazy for one full day only worked if I allowed myself to “enjoy” the laziness. I needed to actually revel in the sloth, enjoy the time spent in bed or aimlessly reading astronomical entries from Wikipedia (I love to do that), in order to somehow put that laziness to sleep.
When I hung around but didn’t allow myself to fully enjoy it, then something different happened: laziness would creep in the next day, in a subtle, stealthy way. You know those days when you think you’re doing a lot, but you actually don’t accomplish much? Those days when you feel like you’ve been running around like a headless chicken, wasting a lot of energy and looking very busy, but with few results?
I came to learn that those frustrating, unproductive days were the days when laziness, having been rejected and pushed into the shadows, crept back in.
The more we suppress a desire, the more it lurks in the dark of our subconscious mind, creeping back into our life in the most unexpected ways.
Something similar happens with sexual desire. If we don’t allow ourselves the time and space to live and enjoy our desires fully, they tend to creep back in and color all of our actions and thoughts with unspent erotic energy. (This is one of the reasons why I highly recommend listening to and honoring our sexual kinks, by the way.)
Do you see a pattern there? Those desires that we don’t acknowledge and that we don’t allow full expression find their own way to get the attention they need. It’s almost as if our desire were saying, “If you won’t satisfy 100 percent of me today, then you’re gonna have to deal with one percent of me for the next 100 days.”
Which, to put it bluntly, sucks. One percent of our unspent laziness or sexual desire can make the difference between focusing on what we need to do, and being distracted.
On the other hand, when we allow ourselves to be lazy—for a specific amount of time, with total awareness, unapologetically enjoying the experience to the fullest—then, the next day, we can allow ourselves to be completely, unapologetically productive (with awareness, and enjoying the experience to the fullest).
The exact balance between “lazy days” and “productive days” is different for everyone, and it depends on life circumstances. If we’ve just had a baby, it’s likely that the moments of laziness will need to be stripped to the bare minimum for a certain amount of time. As we grow older, we can generally expect to be a bit more comfortable with laziness than we were in our thirties or forties.
But these are just generalizations. What really matters is our capacity to feel into what our body and soul need at any given moment. When we are in touch with those needs, we can go into inactivity when necessary, as an animal would go into hibernation without worrying about being considered lazy or unproductive. And then, once the hibernating time is over and we’ve enjoyed it to the fullest, we can blossom back into action like a snowdrop emerging from the winter snow.
Inside each one of us live multiple personalities and desires. Some of these personalities want to accomplish goals, achieve objectives, and just “do.” Others prefer to relax, chill, do nothing, and simply “be.” The proportion and importance of each one of these “voices” is different for each one of us, and it contributes to the uniqueness of each human being.
But, although our inner voices may sometimes contradict each other, silencing any of them won’t help us live a harmonious and balanced life. We’re much better off listening to all the voices, honoring their presence, and then allocating them the right space and place in the bigger picture of our existence.
I’m willing to bet that, among all the voices that live inside each of us, there is a lazy one. A voice that asks us to relax and enjoy the passing of time. That voice also deserves attention and consideration. Whether that means having a full lazy Sunday, a full month off the grid, or just five minutes of relax every day, only we can know.
However it may be, if we keep our “lazy voice” happy, she (my inner lazy voice is feminine, but yours might be different!) won’t need to claim her rights by infiltrating our moments of much-needed activity.
Allowing ourselves, and allowing everyone else, some time of conscious laziness is one way we can make ourselves, and this world, more balanced and harmonious.
Author: Raffaello Manacorda
Editors: Toby Israel; Katarina Tavčar