Active Laziness

Today’s article is about laziness. What a cool word. Immediately creates negative connotation in our brain. Really so bad? Let’s explore. I wrote this article to my work colleagues in October 2015, when I was still deeply immersed in the busy corporate executive life. There was busyness all around me and I could not help to think whether that’s the right kind of busyness or if there is any right kind of it at all. Here is the original article for you to enjoy (and perhaps contemplate…).

Active laziness in Alor Island

I was only able to write this post in today’s flight to Shanghai, being busy with all sorts of things yesterday. Wake up, brush teeth and tongue, wash, stretch, breakfast with kids, bring them to school, exercise, shower, change, emails (as usually some good, some bad and some ugly – I truly enjoy e.g. emails coordinating a meeting to discuss another meeting…), lunch, drive to a meeting, on the way there couple of calls, buy bike lights for kids, meeting, drive back, birthday cake and gifts (our daughter turns 8 today), dinner, reading bedtime story, put kids to bed, tea with my wife, bedtime. Day gone.

What a day! So much accomplished, so busy. With important things but also all sorts of crap-kind-of-maintenance-stuff. Only late in the night I found some time for myself, for reading the book. It has a serious title: The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. It is a serious book. Albeit written as lightly as possible for topics like that. Yesterday, I read the following:

“How many of us, like the man in the story, are swept away by what I have come to call an “active laziness”? Naturally there are different species of laziness: Eastern and Western.
The Eastern style is like the one practiced to perfection in India. It consists of hanging out all day in the sun, doing nothing, avoiding any kind of work or useful activity, drinking cups of tea, listening to Hindi film music blaring on the radio, and gossiping with friends.

Western laziness is quite different. It consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues. If we look into our lives, we will see clearly how many unimportant tasks, so-called “responsibilities” accumulate to fill them up. One master compares them to “housekeeping in a dream.” We tell ourselves we want to spend time on the important things of life, but there never is any time. Even simply to get up in the morning, there is so much to do: open the window, make the bed, take a shower, brush your teeth, feed the dog or cat, do last night’s washing up, discover you are out of sugar or coffee, go and buy them, make breakfast—the list is endless. Then there are clothes to sort out, choose, iron, and fold up again. And what about your hair, or your makeup? Helpless, we watch our days fill up with telephone calls and petty projects, with so many responsibilities—or shouldn’t we call them “irresponsibilities”?

Our lives seem to live us, to possess their own bizarre momentum, to carry us away; in the end we feel we have no choice or control over them. Of course we feel bad about this sometimes, we have nightmares and wake up in a sweat, wondering: “What am I doing with my life?” But our fears only last until breakfast time; out comes the briefcase, and back we go to where we started. I think of the Indian saint, Ramakrishna, who said to one of his disciples: “If you spent one-tenth of the time you devoted to distractions like chasing women or making money to spiritual practice, you would be enlightened in a few years!”

So, what type of laziness do you engage in?

We invest our time on important topics, true. But we also waste time on many useless activities: watching TV, reading newspapers (same stories all over again?), maintenance tasks to keep our life “safe”, meeting people we don’t enjoy but considering impolite to refuse another boring dinner, reading endless emails from school… add your own onto the list!

I feel we can gain serious amount of time if we think twice where to focus (and where not). How to invest such newly discovered time well? You can start a daily journal, meditate or of course exercise with me! 😉 E.g. here: FREE ExFitt Back2Basics – an Easy Core Strength and Body Flexibility Workout.

Have a good week,

PS: here is the book if you like The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. I don’t get any affiliate income from this 😉 but really think highly of this book.

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