For a long time now, I have believed that laziness is a term that really should not exist in any dictionary. I stumbled upon a brilliant article by Devon Price titled “Laziness Does not Exist”. As I was reading through, I enthusiastically started commenting before being overcome with guilt. Do you ever feel bac about “over responding” to a story?
Rightly so, Devon Price informs us that laziness does not exist. However, the experience is still real for the subject. I agree that laziness doesn’t exist “objectively”, but it does as a social, and affective construct. By affectively, I mean that laziness is a representation of a state referred to in neuroscience as interoception. This is the minds way of making sense of internal sensations alerting us to the state of our physiology; what Lisa Feldman Barret refers to as our “body budget”. While The subjective experience is real, we can’t objectively distinguish between laziness, depression, fatigue and other affective constructs.
I once described procrastination as not having enough energy (motivation) to finish the task at hand. In this sense, laziness can be seen as a weakness and not a “wickedness”, or moral failing. Often simply reframing the task conceptually is enough. As an example, I lack the energy (motivation) to go to the gym if I consider it exercise. However, if I think about in terms of mindfulness meditation (the euphoria I experience when I breathe correctly), I’m excited about going.
Devon Price, alerts us to what he calls “situational factors” that may impact the experience of laziness. Let’s talk about physiological factors. At it’s root, what we interpret as laziness, is essentially a variation of affect; a combination of valence (feelings of pleasure or displeasure), and arousal. This state can be bio-hacked with a little insight and expertise. Appropriate diet, meditation, supplements, and even medication are all strategies we can leverage to increase our energy levels. If I take one 200mg pill of Adrafinil (a nootropic), I am five times more productive with my writing for a week. Caffeine has a similar effect if administered appropriately.
To summarize, laziness is an affective construct, and is not an objective experience that can be accurately diagnosed. The experience can arise as a result of both situational and physiological factors. We can be proactive against this state of mind, and either address our environment, and or manipulate our biochemistry to effectively architect a higher state of mental and physical energy.