Is It Good To Be Lazy?

Laziness isn’t doing nothing. Laziness is doing the wrong thing.

I once listened to a presentation by a speaker named Stephen Schmidt who pointed out that in North American society people more frequently commit the sin of overwork rather than the sin of laziness.  We live at such a hectic pace that when we finally get away from work and responsibility we simply do nothing. We sprawl on the couch or lie on a tropical beach if we can afford it, watch mindless television or just sleep.

Being lazy on Lokrum Island in Croatia

Is it all right to be lazy sometimes? Many of us have been brought up to believe it is not. The book of Proverbs in the Bible uses the image of a ‘sluggard’ as a metaphor for the lazy person and there appears to be nothing good about a sluggard.

According to Proverbs lazy people are poor (10:4) foolish, sleep too much, make excuses for not working ( 26: 13-16) don’t care for their property(24:30-31) don’t use their assets properly(12:27) end up losing their independence and power(12:24) and see only obstacles in their way rather than opportunities (15:19). Who would want to be a lazy person?  None of us really wants to turn into a sluggard. Yet we’d all admit that we are sluggards at certain times and in certain areas of our life. 

Sometimes I’m lazy about relationships, not investing the efforts I should to spend time with people I love and do things for people I care about. Sometimes I’m lazy about housework, my writing, my spiritual life.  I play free cell, watch game shows, read People magazine or surf the web instead of doing things that are more important. 

Laziness isn’t doing nothing. Laziness is doing the wrong thing. 

C.S. Lewis said,  “The laziest boy in the class is the one who works the hardest in the end.”  Could it be that one of the reasons we feel so overworked is because we’ve procrastinated? We waste valuable time watching YouTube videos and frequenting Facebook; or in my case baking muffins and cookies, cleaning up my e-mail in-box and watching re-runs of Modern Family.  Suddenly we are facing a deadline and we have to work like crazy to meet it. 

Teaching was my work for most of my life

Stephen Schmidt in his thought-provoking sermon pointed out the importance of balance in life between three things– work, rest and cruising in neutral gear.   He said that work takes energy out of us. Our careers, home chores and community commitments are work.

Reading has always been a relaxing activity for me

Rest rejuvenates us and puts energy back into us.  Activities like reading interesting books, cultivating our spiritual life, doing enjoyable things with our families and getting exercise are part of good rest.  

Having a back massage in Ubud, Bali

Being in neutral gear is important too.  We all need times when we turn our minds off by napping, listening to music, lying in a hammock or having a massage.

The trick to leading a healthy life is figuring out how to balance work, rest and cruising in neutral gear. Perhaps different people need different amounts of each, and perhaps at different points in our lives, we need different percentages of rest, work and neutral cruising. I am finding in my retirement I am struggling more with figuring out that right balance simply because I have more discretionary time at my disposal.

Laziness isn’t doing nothing. Laziness is doing the wrong thing. 

1 Comment

Filed under Reflections, Religion, Retirement

One response to “Is It Good To Be Lazy?

  1. Pingback: Heaven Meets Earth | What Next?

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