If you could list off the things that have brought the most satisfaction and happiness into your life, what would your list include? Your great accomplishments? Your relationships with friends, family or your current partner? Your hobby which helps you feel competent, skilled, and full of worth?
Well, your list may very well include all of these things, but, unfortunately for us humans, we are predisposed to do something that puts everything on our lists in jeopardy.
Many people can’t put their finger on exactly what it is, because it is a non-conscious process. Worse yet, it’s a non-conscious process that most would be reluctant to come to terms with...
It’s like you’re applying pressure to a wound -- it confronts something that will make you squirm. You’d almost rather not feel the pain at all, but you know it’s for the best, for your own good.
And that’s just how you must look at what I am about to say to you. It’s not an insult; it’s an instruction to put pressure on a wound that we all carry, and research shows that applying the necessary pressure will help you remarkably in the end.
You must confront the fact that you are lazy.
You’d prefer not to do anything once you get home from work except sit on your ass and settle into the life laid out before you because you’ve gotten comfortable.
You’re done struggling for scraps, you finally feel established in life -- and it feels good, doesn’t it? You can lounge and enjoy your house or apartment because you earned it, you deserve to relax and it comes so naturally to you. But is that really why you have worked so hard: to gain the ability to be completely idle?
“Wow, this article sucks… just some guilt trip motivational jump-start.”
Okay fine, if that was too harsh for you let me rephrase: you’re not lazy, we’re all lazy. In fact, you and I were hardwired to conserve energy in this way because that’s what was needed thousands and thousands of years ago.
Do you think your ancestors long ago played recreational sports? When they were done running miles on end to hunt down food, do you suppose they started a kickball league?
No reward or expectation = no movement
Ok, so it’s not all your fault, and maybe you can find some comfort in that. But you really shouldn’t... You should realize that there are people that do keep up with their set goals and there are people that do make an active effort to maintain their relationships or hobbies. How do they do all these things if we are essentially hardwired for complacency?
Well, it’s true that you can’t destroy your instinct for idleness -- it will always be looming over you -- but you can overcome it so simply that you have no excuse to let it cripple you, as it often does.
Studies have shown that when we are induced to start a task with just a small piece of candy, we start the task promptly and are far happier than those who sat by idly, doing nothing.
You see, we don’t need this “instinct for idleness” anymore. We have excess energy resources available at our fingertips (literally, you can now text Dominoes and have a pizza at your door in 30 minutes).
Currently, this instinct only serves to hold us back. We are no longer so short-sighted, focused only on survival. Instead we focus on long-term goals and our ability to thrive. This instinct for idleness is at odds with our true desires. We are paralyzed into doing nothing or performing the bare minimum, when the reality is that pushing for more and keeping ourselves busy is crucial to having a happier life.
Take charge, damn it! Your idleness is something you must be proactive about, or it will creep into your life and you will settle for less because that’s what you're born to do. You will tell yourself it’s what you wanted all along, even though we now know you would be happier with a meaningful objective.
Make obligations and become accountable to others. This is the easiest way to ensure you stick to those fulfilling activities that truly make your time valuable. Whether it be an obligation to meet up with friends for a weekly get-together or arrive to the gym on time to workout with a partner or trainer, making others rely on you is a powerful way to avoid idleness. Bonus points: having a social group that looks after you or cares about your attendance is a huge factor in increasing your overall life satisfaction.
Become accountable to yourself. This one is a little trickier, but really owning it can make you an unstoppable force. You can’t always rely on other people to help you or even care about your endeavor. If you build something into your routine, and it becomes a part of you, you will find that your inaction will feel like self-betrayal; talk about a miracle motivator! This is something that is definitely worthwhile to develop because mastery of yourself in this way will make no victory seem too far fetched.
You may not like being called lazy. I know I don’t. So do something about it! Don’t let your outdated brain imprison you and blind you to what true happiness looks like. You can overcome it, and you can do so starting today -- you really can. Take the accountability steps above, and better yet, leave a comment below TELLING us what you’re GOING to do within the week.
It doesn’t have to be inspirational, just something you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t “gotten around to.” And say it with some damn conviction, because if you can’t make me believe you’ll stick to it, then I hardly believe you can stick to it on your own terms.
Go out and get your victory! It only takes one step to get started.