Nov 10

The myth of laziness

Apparently this topic has already been covered in a book by Mel Levine, but I wanted to give my own take on the matter.

On a few occasions in my life people have either said, or suggested or implied that I am lazy, typically to my annoyance and disapproval of their judgment. Not only is it an insulting and judgmental thing to say about another person, but it entirely misses the point of human motivation and it’s causes. Throughout my life there have been times when I am making the effort to improve my life and I am living actively, then other times I wasn’t improving and became more inactive. I came up with a list of as many reasons or causes I could think of that could explain a persons seeming lack of motivation, which are far better explanations for peoples behaviours than simply “just lazy”:

  • Depression – fatigue, loss of motivation, loss of interest in things.
  • Schizophrenia – avolition, social functioning problems
  • Perfectionism – procrastination
  • Passivity – lack of assertive behaviour towards achieving goals
  • Autism spectrum disorders – lack of social skills
  • Social anxiety – fear of social situations
  • Fixed mindsets – can hold a person back from improving them self.
  • Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation
  • Lack of reward for efforts
  • Undecided about life purpose
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of success
  • Fear of negative reactions from others
  • Personality types example INTP type “INTPs remain so open to new information that they often never commit to a decision at all. This applies to their own skills as well – INTP personalities know that as they practice, they improve, and any work they do is second-best to what they could do. Unable to settle for this, INTPs sometimes delay their output indefinitely with constant revisions, sometimes even quitting before they ever begin.” (source

    The following is a list of suggestions of how a person may begin to improve their overall levels of motivation relative to the specific problem holding them back:

  • Depression – CBT, meditation, medication, exercise, social activities
  • Schizophrenia – Therapy, medication, social support
  • Perfectionism – resolve underlying shame regarding perfectionist attitudes, develop a growth mindset
  • Passivity – learn assertiveness training and practice it
  • Autism spectrum disorders – learn social skills
  • Social anxiety – Develop high self esteem, and learn to define yourself. Try to not care as much about what others think of you.
  • Fixed mindsets – Develop a growth mindset instead
  • Intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation –
  • Lack of reward for efforts –
  • Undecided about life purpose – Find your life purpose
  • Fear of failure – Develop a growth mindset and redefine failure as not trying, whereas trying is succeeding.
  • Fear of success – Reframe your beliefs about what you deserve
  • Fear of negative reactions from others – Find a life purpose, develop self esteem
  • Personality types example INTP type –

    Reoccurring themes and conclusion

    Shame, fear, low self esteem, lack of social skills and mental health problems.
    These are the true causes of ‘laziness’, so let us eradicate this unhelpful, ignorant myth once and for all.

    I also recommend viewing the following video about motivation – RSA video – “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us”

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