Why Laziness is a Myth







I have strong feelings about the word lazy.

Growing up in a Korean family that valued hard work, academic achievement, and productivity, the worst thing you could be is lazy.

In fact, I’m still working on not feeling like I’m a useless blob for sitting quietly and enjoying down time.

Of course, throughout our lives, we are rewarded when we work hard with good grades, praise at work, and a general feeling inside that in some way we’re superior to those who are less productive than we are.

But putting laziness in the “bad” category can have dark consequences.

In fact, I know many people who experience  anxiety because they continuously feel like they should be doing more and more.

Clearly the idea of “more” is vague at best when we are asked to define what “more” means, but that doesn’t stop us from judging ourselves because we aren’t there yet.

It’s pretty preposterous when we really think about it.

How did we get to a point where students who are achieving a 4.0 grade point average, president of three clubs, and volunteering at five organizations still feel they aren’t doing enough? Whatever “enough” means! Or a mother who is working full-time, raising kids, and maintaining the household feels inadequate because they didn’t make it to a yoga class?

Well, I’m here to say that laziness is a myth.

Yes, it doesn’t exist.

It’s an indefinable concept that is hurting a lot of us today as it eats at our sense of self-worth and happiness.


Sometimes the idea of laziness is thought of as a characteristic of a person. It’s a word used to describe the way a person is. More about that in this post.

But there are many, many other reasons why it may be difficult for someone to be as productive as they could be.

I’m going to go over some major ones below.


When we are going through a rough time emotionally, it drains our energy and lowers our abilities for coping with daily life. While we may not be at the point of clinical depression or anxiety, it is still affecting our ability to accomplish things at a level we normally would. For example when we have an argument with a family member or friend, or when we are worried about our finances.


One not so obvious cause for emotional distress can be major shifts in life that result in uncertainty and asking the “big questions”. Sometimes important questions in our lives are not yet answered for us and it becomes difficult to continue going through the motions of life when our world and sense of self are being shaken. We wonder “Why am I doing this?” or “Should I be doing this?”

During these times, it may be helpful to seek out others who you trust and respect to help you sort out these questions.


What do you love to do?

When we’re doing activities we love, no one has to tell us to do more.

We naturally want to work hard at it. We want to become completely immersed in it.

It’s effortless.

We get in a flow and spend away hours and hours doing something we love without realizing how much time has gone by.

But even one minute of an activity we don’t enjoy is like torture.

Is it really rocket science that we dread and ultimately avoid those things at all cost?

Is it possible that we aren’t being “lazy” because we don’t want to dust the tops of the bookshelves, but we avoid it because bores us to the point of wanting to poke our eyes out?

If our days are filled with activities that bore us, eventually we will start to dread those activities and avoid them.

It’s like an active boredom, and it’s mentally draining.

Sadly, some of us view this natural inclination as laziness and judge themselves harshly for it.

Apparently you’re lazy when you don’t enjoy some activities as much as others.


When our physical health or fitness is compromised in any way, it is much more difficult to be active both mentally and physically.

Eating poorly or not getting enough sleep drastically decreases our ability to perform tasks that might not be as challenging otherwise.

This is something that’s very individual and that you need to figure out for yourself.

When we aren’t being as productive as we would like, it might be good to assess our lifestyle and habits and see if there is room for improvement.


Last but definitely not least, the idea of laziness could be used as another way for blaming the individual for issues that may actually exist in their environment.  For example, placing unreasonable expectations on individuals and blaming them when they don’t succeed, or blaming individuals for poor sales when really there were many factors involved in losing the sale.

Unfortunately, when there is no limit to how much a person should or could work, it becomes easy to blame the individual for problems that are actually systemic and then for the individual to believe they were the cause of the problem.

So do you feel like you judge yourself for being “lazy”?

When do you know when you’re doing too much?