Laziness is often seen as a bad thing. Many people link laziness to our physical health, our mental health and a degradation to our society. This, however, is not always the case; within reason, laziness provides a whole host of benefits. An often cited anecdote purports that either Steve Jobs or Bill Gates- depending on who is telling you- at one time or another claimed that they prefer to hire lazy people because ‘they find the easiest, quickest and most efficient ways of getting the job done’.
This may or may not be true of one or both of the men although it is more likely that this is a reflection of our own desires to be lazy and take things easy. That being said there is some grain of truth to the statement. In this article we will look at some of the ways that being lazy can be good. In this article we look at some of the ways that our views on ‘laziness’ are often contrary to the truth.
1. Laziness is Good for Society.
Picture an ant colony. Chances are you have imagined thousands of scurrying ants busily at work achieving some goal or task at an exceptional rate. We often assume that ant colonies are the perfect metaphor for a society of completely productive members. Time to think again. A recently published study in Nature contradicts this assumption.
It turns out that there is a rather high percentage of ants that do nothing within a colony at any given time. Rather than all members of a colony constantly at work for the good of the colony many ants just laze about. What’s interesting here is that the lazy ant is good for society. Rather than being detrimental to the colony the lazy ant acts as something of a buffer to tiredness within the colony.
The researchers ran efficiency simulations on colony productivity and found that colonies without lazy ants failed to thrive for as long as the lazy colonies. Basically the busy ant colonies had no spare parts when a new task appeared which meant the colony as a whole suffered. Whereas in the lazy colony there was a ready supply of ants to tackle new tasks. The elasticity of the lazy colony and its ability to react to new tasks enabled it to survive for longer.
Essentially this means that lazy people are good for society and as such we should all congratulate ourselves for a job not done well.
2. Naps can make you Smarter.
We all enjoy an extra little kip every now and then. We might sometimes feel a little guilty after a sneaky nap but there’s no need to worry. Studies have consistently shown that taking a nap can boost your memory performance and can have a range of health benefits. Some studies have suggested that a nap can prolong your life by slowing down the aging process, not just keeping you alive but keeping you young.
Many studies have concluded that taking a nap can boost your memory performance and problem solving skills. This is a particularly useful tool for students preparing for exams; remember to take a short nap anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes long every 2 to 3 hours. While some people might think you are being lazy the truth is you are being very practical.
Napping is no easy task; sure, dozing off is not the hardest thing to do but much like playing a bass guitar it’s easy to pick up and pretend to be a real musician but very difficult to be any good at it. Napping isn’t just about falling asleep, there is a strict regiment and discipline required to get it right it’s important not to sleep too close to your bedtime or for too long during the day.
If done right napping can make you smarter than your family and outlive all your friends and sure what’s the point in life if not that?
3. Improved Mental Health.
To the outside eye a person in meditation looks very lazy. Meditation, or more accurately mindfulness, is not the stereotypical cross legged monk chanting ‘ohm’ incessantly. Instead mindfulness is an exercise in concentration, relaxation and calmness.
Being able to relax has the obvious benefits of reducing stress. Although mindfulness has the added benefits of improving your ability to enter a state of relaxation almost entirely at will and also makes you a better person. It’s important to distinguish mindfulness from meditation; while the two are closely related they are not the same. Meditation is percieved as somehow exotic and at one point came to be seen as pretentious.
Mindfulness on the other hand has grown from out of clearly observed scientific principles and much of the benefits mindfulness exercises claim have been backed by authentic scientific research. In fact at least one study has shown that mindfulness literally changes the shape of your brain. On a side note brain structure is directly related to it’s performance and may improve your chances of aging healthily.
Like doing squats use mindfulness to get those curvy edges you always wanted, albeit for your brain.
Take Home Message.
The fact is that being absolutely uselessly lazy is most likely bad for you. In an increasingly busy, rushed and unforgiving society, however, taking a break is precisely what is needed. Take a lesson form the ants and rest easy until you’re needed avoiding any undue stresses. Follow the baby’s example and take a nap when you’re all tuckered out. Finally, like the monks you see in the movies take the time to reflect on yourself with mindfulness and you get to keep your hair!