Redefine Lazy

At one time or another, we’ve been called lazy (maybe more than once). But what if I said the term ‘lazy’ is more damaging than you realise. Social psychologist, Devon Price, in his paper ‘Laziness does not exist’ said, “Situational constraints typically predict behaviour far better than personality, intelligence or other individual-level traits.”

A lot of research has surfaced recently proposing this same idea. That being “lazy” doesn’t exist. Instead, there are just unseen barriers stopping you from doing certain activities. For example, not wanting to do the dishes doesn’t make you lazy. Instead, you may be tired, unmotivated, stressed or overwhelmed.

Using the term ‘lazy’ is a blanket statement that finalises and simplifies our behaviour. But human behaviour is far more complicated than that. By doing this, we don’t think to look further into ourselves to find the real reason for our behaviour.

Removing the word ‘lazy’ allows us to look deeper so we can begin to break down our actions.

Engraining this term in young people’s heads leads them to believe it’s true. So whenever they don’t want to do simple tasks, they don’t see it as anything but laziness. When in fact it could be calling out to a bigger issue.

If a behaviour doesn’t make sense, like not having the energy to do simple things, there’s a part of the context missing. So next time you find yourself using the term “lazy” (for yourself or others), look for the unseen barriers causing this behaviour.

If you are finding it difficult to get things done, here’s a few tips to make those tasks a little easier:

  • Break up bigger jobs into small tasks
  • Set a time for yourself to do certain things
  • Remember you don’t have to do all your tasks in one day
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Remove distractions
  • Reframe your thoughts. Instead of “there’s so much to do”, try “I might not get everything done today but I’ll make good progress.

By being able to recognise and understand these changes in our behaviour, we can start to improve the way we look at ourselves and others. We have to start putting self care first and not to be so hard on yourself. You’re doing great!