How to Overcome Laziness: 3 Mindset Shifts
Three mindset shifts you can do you to kill laziness, inspired by stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius.
Laziness is something that gets the best of all of us from time to time. When faced with the choice of an easy, instantly gratifying task, and a more difficult one with delayed gratification, the easy option becomes very appealing, right? We've all hit snooze in favor of spending a few minutes more under the warmth of our sheets instead of getting up and starting our day and it turns out laziness isn't just reserved for the temptation of our cushiony modern luxuries. Greek Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote about the apparently timeless dilemma of getting out of bed between AD 171 and AD 175 (over 1,851 years ago!).
While I personally hold the belief that humans were meant to do nothing but laze about on beaches and eat mangoes, I also can't deny the fact that the instant gratification of laziness just doesn't last. In fact, I often regret neglecting my tasks in favor of being lazy. So as I read more about Aurelius' take on getting himself out of bed, I realized a lot of his and other ancient philosophers' remarks are useful for beating the temptation of laziness. Read on for easy mindset shifts you can do to avoid laziness.
Ask yourself; Is this what you were born to do?
In his book Meditations, Aurelius writes, "At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: "I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?'"
One might be tempted to say "But it's nicer here..."
To that Marcus Aurelius argues, "So you were born to feel 'nice'? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?"
To him, our nature as human beings is to go out and live a good life. To get up, help others, and add to the great things in the world by pursuing your passions. Wherever he talks about your "nature", think about whatever it is that gives you purpose in life. If you haven't figured that out yet, I challenge you to see that driving force as hope, good karma, or destiny. You have to understand that the world will be a much better place if you are happy and doing what you love.
"...the universe has afforded us so many things; waking up to another day, shelter, food, friends, clothes, education. So the question is then, what can we give back to the universe? How can we pass on the good karma that has been so generously been gifted to us?"
He even went so far as to say that everything has a natural limit, and if you opt to stay in bed instead of working, then you are over your limit for sleep and below your quota for working. If you're having trouble tackling whatever it is you need/want to do for the day, try blocking out your daily schedule. Once it's time to get out of bed, remember that you've already had enough rest and it's time to make your dreams a reality.
Be assured I don't think the term "working" here has to be the literal job that you get paid for, but rather what you think you owe the world. The way I see it, the universe has afforded us so many things; waking up to another day, shelter, food, friends, clothes, education. So the question is then, what can we give back to the universe? How can we pass on the good karma that has been so generously been gifted to us? I say the best way to give back is to pursue your passions relentlessly, do what makes you happy, and share kindness with others.
Remind yourself that challenge pays off
Aurelius asserts, "You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you." I love this way of reasoning. Look to your nature and the nature of the world that you know to be true. You and I both know from our life experiences that instant gratification is a fruitless pursuit. Everything innate within you and in the world says that longer-lasting gratification will only come from the more difficult tasks and goals.
Remember that self-care isn't always easy. Self-care sometimes looks like getting up and doing things that we don't always find fun or interesting. This could be getting off of your phone, saving your money, or setting boundaries with yourself and others.
Rest and Relax
Marcus Aurelius didn't have much to say on this aspect but it's the most important part of battling laziness. Remember that rest is in our nature too! If you're tired, rest. If you can't bring yourself to go to class one day, don't go. Fulfill your "quota" for rest and relaxation so that you feel energized each day.
It's important to know that sometimes feeling overly lazy or unmotivated is a symptom of burnout. In which case, please take it easy on yourself. Being lazy isn't inherently bad if it's your body trying to get you to rest. To avoid burnout, make sure that when you do have time off, spend that time fully relaxed.