Firstly we need to get clear about what laziness is. We usually don’t think about it much and we generally just label it on anyone that sits around and doesn’t do much (or doesn’t do what we think should be done). Sometimes we quietly feel lazy ourselves and then have an internal struggle between the guilt of not doing what we think we should vs. what we feel.
So another way of looking at laziness is as a lack of motivation. After all, we’re motivated when we have the urge or desire for something other than what we have now, or where we are right now. That could be from something that is chosen directly or indirectly.
Some examples of this are, let’s say you’re sitting comfortably watching your favorite show on TV, you then feel discomfort from your bladder getting full, you need to get up out of the comfy seat and go to the toilet.
This is indirect motivation because in your head, you prefer to stay at rest where you are, but your body is making it increasingly uncomfortable for you to keep sitting there and is telling you to get up and do what needs to be done. You can probably hang on until a commercial break, but of course eventually you get up. This is indirect motivation because it’s not something you chose consciously.
Direct motivation on the other hand is when, for example, you decide you want a job, you feel the excitement of finding a new job and you find yourself taking all this action to do what it takes to finally get the job. You consciously chose this and so directly motivated yourself.
If you stop for a moment and think about your day from the moment you get out of bed to the point you go back to bed, every single movement you do is made up of direct and indirect motivations. We feel hungry, we prepare something to eat, we’re cold, we put warmer clothing on, we’re tired, we sleep, we want to be fit, and we exercise, and so on.
The question is, how to find more of the direct motivation rather than just being prodded all the time by external events to take action?
The answer lies in how you feel at any given moment. The feeling required to be motivated can either come from inspiration or desperation (or simply discomfort). While it’s great to be driven by inspiration, I think that for the majority of people, desperation is what drives us.
A good example is when people that say, “I have to work, otherwise I’ll lose my house!” It may not feel good but the discomfort gives rise to the motivation to work.
So, having established that we are all motivated by something, whether it’s pleasure or pain, the next step is how do we get in touch with the feeling that will have us take direct motivated action?
You may be thinking it takes willpower to be motivated. Willpower is a temporary force that can be used for a while, but if the thing you’re doing isn’t in alignment with you, and then it just becomes struggle, pain and usually fails anyway.
Willpower simply isn’t a natural flow, just ask anyone that’s tried to quit smoking through willpower. It’s something you force upon yourself and that doesn’t really feel good and so invariably fails. There’s a saying that goes, “what’s externally imposed is internally opposed”, that could be the description for willpower.
You can probably guess from what I’ve written so far to what the answer is in finding the motivation. It’s about finding what feels good for you; so that the feeling is strong enough to overcome any excuses you may come up with to not take action.
So what happens if day in and day out you can’t find anything that has you feel good?
Then it’s time to surrender to what you have in front of you, the choices are:
- Adjust the way you think, as thoughts give rise to what you feel, or
- Be present by focusing on your breath and allow everything to be ok just as it is, where nothing needs to be done or changed. And see what comes up from there.
Most self help books focus on the first one, but for me the second one is the way to go.
- Take time to find what it is that you enjoy doing
- Get in touch with the emotion so that you feel all the great details
- If you find excuses for why you shouldn’t do it then you’re not ready for it yet
- Go back to finding what you enjoy
- In the meantime you’ll probably still have to do things like go to work to pay your bills, but you can bring enjoyment to it knowing that you are also working on something you love
- If you still can’t find what you enjoy doing, then aim to simply feel good now, by either focusing your thoughts on something that has you feel good, or focus on your breath and allow all that is to be fine just as it is
- Remember, everyone has heaps of motivation to do things when you feel good
By Angelo Campione, a writer and publisher of Mindfulness related articles. He has real life experience in dealing with emotional pain and now walks the path that has him live a life of purpose and joy. www.studentisready.com/blog