If you’re still in hibernation mode and feeling a little lazy, leave guilt behind and embrace the virtue of laziness. Marja Fox explains why laziness can be a superpower.
I will never forget the look on her face. It was senior year of high school and my desk neighbor in Accelerated Physics class, Jami, stared at me in wide-eyed bafflement. I had been out sick for the past week, so I didn’t know about the day’s exam. Mr. Brandt offered to let me take it another day.
“Nah, I’ll take it now.” Scheduling a makeup seemed like a pain in the butt.
Even better than Jami’s face that day was the look she gave me two days later when, handing the tests back, Mr. Brandt announced that I had high-scored it and bequeathed me the coveted prize. (In this case, a tuning fork, for our unit on sound. He was into that kind of thing.) She was equal parts shocked, impressed, and jealous. I was entirely thrilled.
It was hardly my only academic success in high school. I always did well – big fish in a little pond – but I remember this achievement particularly vividly. It took me some years to figure out why and even longer to realize that what sat underneath the thrill was a superpower to be harnessed. That superpower? Laziness.
Laziness Gets a Bad Rap
I’m guessing laziness doesn’t crack your top ten list of superpowers. It’s not exactly idealized in pop culture. There’s no Captain America of Lazy. In fact, on the Superpower Wiki, I was able to find several characters – from Charmed, Power Rangers, Ultraman – with the opposite power, Sloth Inducement. Laziness’ poor reputation is nothing new: according to the Catholic Church, that totally infallible source, sloth is one of the seven deadly sins, so it made somebody’s top ten list! What gives?
I contend that our language fails us. There are two important concepts at play here that we tend to describe interchangeably. The first is about the presence or absence of interest. On one end of the spectrum, I’d put words like ambition, motivation, purpose, intention; on the other end, we have apathy, indifference, even aversion … but not laziness. Putting my cards on the table: apathy is not a virtue and if we think of laziness as a synonym of apathy, it’s not a virtue either. The second concept is about the inclination or disinclination towards exertion. Words here include hard work, industriousness, and strain. This is the laziness I mean, the preference to work as little as possible.”
Key points include:
- Sloth inducement
- Ambitious laziness
- Finding your lazy
Read the full article, The Virtue of Laziness, on MarjaFox.com.