Lately I’ve been getting more and more stories along the lines of “I know what causes my apathy, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” What’s surprising is that I don’t sense any bitterness in these messages, nor any kind of real effort to figure out how to change. It sounds more like issuing a challenge. An assertion of their uniqueness, because obviously no one else understands the reasons for their suffering (yeah, right), whereas they understand their own problems perfectly.
In fact, it’s precisely the opposite. If you’re aware of the ‘foibles’ that are hindering your development, but can’t seem to do anything about them, then you’re no different from the majority of the population. You are a typical example.
Most people understand how to handle their apathy, and are aware of the reasons that cause it; however, only a certain few are able to change their habits.
People search for new information, new methods and gifted gurus, when all the while the real solution, which you’ve always known, is to start taking the simplest steps. Sometimes, in order to do this, you have to remove yourself from inhibiting situations… But that’s another story.
How can you combat laziness?
For a start, it helps to understand that there’s no such thing as laziness. No, you haven’t misread; no, that’s not a typo. Laziness does not exist. Therefore any attempt to combat laziness is like battling against thin air.
No desire to do your chosen task? No enthusiasm to get up in the morning? Late for everything? Unable to complete what you’ve started? Arms limp and shoulders hunched? Unable to motivate yourself to do anything? Lost your enthusiasm?
These are consequences, not causes.
Seeing as there’s no such thing as laziness, it’s more likely one of the following:
Dissatisfaction with what you are doing
An energy slump
Aimlessness, resulting in stagnation
Not being able to see the ‘big picture’, meaning you’ve lost sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing
We’re used to calling the symptoms of these factors ‘laziness’, but each one needs to be treated in a completely different way. Not loving what you’re doing, for example, is inherently different from not being able to see the big picture. In the first instance, you need to change your chosen activity; in the second, keep doing what you’re doing but set your sights on something bigger.
It’s a universal law of nature that treating the cause of the problem will make the symptoms disappear. And vice versa: trying to treat the symptoms alone will only result in a temporary solution. You can take as many painkillers as you like, be they in the form of parties, holidays, booze, narcotics or yoga retreats – they will all provide a pleasant respite but only in the short term. Feeling bored of life and your daily routine will only get worse until you get to the root of the problem.
“I have trouble getting up in the morning!” they say.
“Well what if tomorrow you were offered a round-the-world-trip in a team of like-minded people, where you’d have to get up early every day for a year, then what? Would you go? Would you be able to get up (and be happy to do so, seeing as you are on the dream trip of a lifetime)?”
How to cure the true cause of your laziness and have more drive
Let’s look at each case separately.
Laziness as a result of not enjoying your occupation
Any unsatisfying activity, pointless tasks, or activities that feel petty or go against your personal principles will not only bring about laziness, but also create an internal block. It can literally become impossible to get out of bed in the morning, and this is directly proportional to your level of self-awareness. The more conscious you are, the harder it is to live without meaning.
– What is the meaning of conscious life? – The meaning is to choose your own meaning and follow its course.
It’s not enough to simply go against the grain; nor to just pack up and quit. You need to choose your own way, your own meaning, and devote yourself to it entirely – otherwise you’ll find that a self-imposed state is no better than conforming to the expectations of society…
There is another genre of letter I regularly receive: “I recently quit a job I wasn’t enjoying. I’m a hero!”
I’m always tempted to reply:
“My friend, you’ll be a hero once you’ve found a vocation close to your heart and you are patient enough follow it through.”
The fact that you quit a job you didn’t like doesn’t mean you’re immune to feeling lazy or falling into a state of apathy. This is when the hard part begins: understanding that it’s impossible to ‘find’ yourself, you can only create yourself, it’s similarly impossibe to ‘find’ your purpose – but you can choose something you enjoy and just start doing it. And put your heart and soul into it.
People are afraid of putting their soul into things. They’re afraid of letting go. First they want to be loved, or somehow accomplish their goal, and only then are they prepared to let go. But it doesn’t work this way. Nature shows us clearly:
You reap what you sow.
If you don’t sow your seeds or take good care of your seedlings, there will be nothing to reap come autumn. Imagine the following interaction:
“Dear vegetable patch, first give me some sweet and juicy strawberries, and then I’ll plant them and take care of them.”
“Dear Universe, first give me a vocation which inspires and fulfills me and then I’ll put my heart and sould into it.”
What’s the universe supposed to do with such a hopeless case? How do you expect it to respond? Here’s where symptons like suffering and laziness come in, as a way of making us reflect and resolve our infantile behaviour.
2. Laziness caused by an energy slump
An energy slump is a totally different cause of the symptoms of laziness and can come about even when things are going well. You’re tired, burnt out perhaps, you’re running on empty and you start to question: “did I choose the right path?”. When the creative process becomes torture, or you begin to torture yourself, then it’s time to take a break, rebuild your strength and your energy cycle.
The first thing to bear in mind is that a drop in energy can occur even when you are on the right track; it doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel and go looking for another occupation which will miraculously be perfect for you in every way.
What causes the slump? Tiredness, both physical and emotional. The solution is lots of rest before you can reboot. Don’t forget the importance of a healthy diet and exercise to sustain your physical fitness.
If you realise you’re going through an energy slump the first thing you need to do is rebuild your strength with lots of rest, and don’t make any decisions while in this state. Your next task will be to minimise the risk of a future slump by including exercise, wholesome fun and a healthy diet in your daily life.
3. Laziness through lack of current objectives
Still water turns stagnant. The same can be said for your energy: when there is no defined path for it to flow along, it just stagnates inside, leading to many negative consequences. You sleep when you’re not tired, you want to eat when you’re not hungry, and so on and so forth. It feels awful but you get used to it.
Unused muscles begin to atrophy, and then require a huge amount of strength to get them working again. Your inner strength works in the same way; it wastes away if left unused. Of course you’ll begin to feel lazy. It goes without saying.
It depends on the level of neglect in each situation, but the overall solution will always be the same: a clear aim that will stimulate your entire being. And furthermore, an aim that is relevant now, that you can work on right away, not at some point in the future. Because the here and now is all we have.
Someone who waits their whole life for some grand purpose to smack them in the face is like a desperate 30-year-old virgin still holding out for Prince Charming. Guys, first you just need to work towards any kind of objective, no matter how small. And then you can move onto bigger and better things. We are climbing a mountain climb and it’s a thrilling journey.
Many people have dreams that can be accomplished within a week, but they make them into lifelong dreams.
Unknown author from the internet
Lose weight. Earn your first million (starting with the first thousand). See the world – starting closeby. Start your own business. Start something and see it through to the end. It’s the only way to realise for yourself that everything in this life is possible, and simpler than you might think.
4. Laziness through lack of a ‘bigger picture’
There is some reading material on this subject that’s worth looking at: “Large-scale vision as a springboard for growth”. The essential idea is that if you’re engaged in something that interests you and you’re able to progress quickly, you’re able to earn money and recognition from it and so on, then it is absolutely essential that you have an idea of the bigger picture in order to continue your development.
You’ve outgrown your stabilisers; it’s time to grow up and update your objectives. If the idea of buying a car and earning a decent wage was once impressive, then the minute they become a reality you realise that they are not enough. They become petty and superficial. You can of course push yourself into “getting rid of ego and all its subsequent desires”, or you can admit that achieving your goals is a great way to inspire internal growth which your whole being so desperately needs (and will always need – such is our nature).
A wider perspective helps us see the sense in daily grind and get through it with ease:
We will never get rid of routine. We can minimise it, outsource it, automate it, but there will always be a certain element of monotony in our lives – and that’s ok. It’s the person that changes. Having a wider perspective of your life, with all its current projects, and even the boring aspects, will allow you to come out on top effortleslly, savouring the flavours of life
From “Large-scale view as a springboard for growth”
But if we don’t have this vision in place, then our inner scope and ambitions lose meaning and boredom takes over. Having fun won’t help and neither will exercise. You need a large and clear goal to awaken your appetite and taste for life.
To sum up, overcoming laziness is impossible, but the truth is you don’t have to. The main thing is to identify the cause of your laziness – and do so as soon as possible. Don’t ignore this mental condition and don’t settle for a life without colour.