> I see this shit every day in other parents: “She hates to read!” “He’s lazy!” “She’s bad at math!” You are imprisoning your kid with your words, fuckers!
That's spot on. It's really upsetting to hear people say that about children, especially people with authority (parents, grandparents). DON'T DO THAT!
Or, if you have to do that (!?!) at least be positive. Don't tell a kid she's bad at math, tell her she's good at math and you're surprised she doesn't get good grades -- she's a natural! all of this should be sooo easy for her! there must be something holding her back.
People tend to conform to other people's opinions of them; they will get good at math just to match the image we're projecting on them.
My wife is very similar to the person who wrote this article. She will not do anything she can procrastinate. Nothing. I personally think its some sort of insidious depression. It's destroyed our lives together, and I'm on the verge of asking for a divorce for the... 3rd time, except this time, I'm going to just file.
It is absolutely impossible to have the energy for both people in a relationship. My health is suffering from the stress. Things are so bad that I have to make sure she eats.
Nobody but me knows this side of her, she projects an image of a healthy, successful person.
edit: A marriage is a zero-sum game. Any chore she doesn't do, I am forced to. I've gradually had to give up everything that makes me happy to fund this depression of hers. I used to be a serious lifter, I was well into writing two novels, I did electronics projects, had an active night life, went to concerts. Now, I'm just a robot that does chores.
From the little "Sloth" wrote, it sounds like it's possible she might have undiagnosed ADHD.
As someone with ADHD myself, I instantly recognized the inability to get myself to start working on something until the last minute (even if I really, really want to do it) and the piles clothes (despite my propensity for cleanliness). Another hallmark of ADHD that many don't know about is bursts of almost manic productivity for random tasks or when under extreme pressure.
If she does have ADHD, Polly's answer is both unhelpful and somewhat dangerous.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is interesting for this type of thing - mindfulness meditation too. Both are helpful at gaining clarity around overgeneralizations we make about ourselves. In meditation it’s very common to reach a point of realization that ‘what we are’ is not equal to the labels we attach to ourselves.
Both cause a kind of short-circuiting of the “automatic thoughts” we have in response to emotional triggers. In cognitive behavioral therapy, something like procrastination is addressed by listing all of the thoughts you have in response to the thing you’re avoiding, identifying irrationalities, and forming rational responses. It can be very effective at easing anger, fear, sadness, and lack of motivation.
With mindfulness, over time it’s possible to begin decoupling your true self from all of the labels. This is also known as “ego death”, and can be somewhat painful and uncomfortable - the ego tends to fight back when it feels you letting go of it. In deep meditation it can be almost frightening to experience the ego disappear; we go through most of our lives thinking we are the labels we’ve associated with ourselves. To let go of the labels can feel like letting go of yourself. Blissful meditation is a state of just being; no labels.
I recommend checking out the book “Feeling Good” if you want to know more about CBT, and there are tons of resources on mindfulness, but Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind is great (as well as most of Alan Watts’ lectures you can find on YouTube).
Maybe she is not lazy at all. Maybe she just doesn't want to work on things that don't motivate or interest her. It is my ultimate goal to never have to work on things that don't interest me if only I can figure out a way to automate all of that ;)
The fact that she has succeeded in getting A's with waiting until the last minute and not putting in much effort, indicates that she is very smart. I have noticed that really smart people seem to lack motivation and get bored very easily. The two closest people to me are like this. The thing is though, when they find something that does interest them, there is no stopping them. They turn into the hardest working people around.
When I was failing classes in college, I had a conversation with a dean who suggested that I subconsciously didn't want to be there, and that I was committing academic self-sabotage as a result. This struck me as an extravagant, bizarre theory. (Cynically, I also wonder if she was trying to convince me to voluntarily leave the college so that I wouldn't ding their graduation rate.)
I tend to be suspicious of this kind of move, where what seems like a character flaw is explained away as something more benign. In the article in question, the author suggests that the woman writing in is not really lazy, but has been holding back out of fear that she might disappoint herself. But why can't she just be lazy? I don't doubt that there are people who have the kind of subtle psychology that the author suggests. But I wonder if we're too eager to accept such explanations because they are more comforting than more straightforward, harsher ones.
Warning - rant.
I wish HN would ban BS psychology articles. There are real, scientific, actionable steps to understanding perceived motivational deficit and this article doesn't get close to them. It retreads stigmatizing labels, regurgitates useless advice, and provokes high confidence low value anecdotes.
1. Motivation is a chemical state.
You can induce motivation generically through dopamine reuptake inhibitors. Why do you think Adderall makes you clean your room? It's not a sudden hatred for dust, it's that your baseline motivation to accomplish any task is enhanced and you're in a task rich environment with a messy room. Many other interesting chemical pathways and interventions exist to directly change the frequency and nature of task initiation performance and completion.
2. Environment strongly impacts internal chemical state.
Take an "addicted" rat and put her into a rich environment and the apparently highly motivating cocaine reward looses its attraction. Take a minimally athletic human and put a bear behind them and they will run.
In neither of the above does a person need to re-evaluate their life and identity, utter crap.
My point here is that HN has an unusual respect for technically interesting and accurate news. It's not all gold, but it seems to favor factual pieces over largely emotional and unproductive arguments. Pop-psychology and feel good generic advice blogs are firmly in that second category. Their value has not advanced since the 50s and we should start seeing them as the kind of harmful, anti-scientific, community deviding memes they are.
I wish this advice mentioned the importance of ruling out issues like ADHD first, especially the inattentive type which is often underdiagnosed in women. I really relate to OPs description, and if she does have an exectutive functioning disorder that makes task prioritization inadequate and non-stimulating activities unrewarding to a massive extent, it wont be simply a matter of "overcoming fear" to start directing herself in a way that is more satisfying. If anything, it's a recipe for depression and frustration to try to act on advice like this if you have untreated ADHD.
This was an article that I read and pleasantly winced as the author called out not only my weak choices, but my reasoning for them.
I understand this article isn't for everyone, or maybe even most people, but it's for sure the thing I needed to read now.
As someone who used to be much like the asker and is now a little more like the answerer, I cannot recommend this answer enough! It is so insightful and well-put.
Treat it as breadcrumbs from someone farther along on the journey of growth and self-discovery.
I'm not sure how this got here, but wow, Heather Havrilesky is still around. She wrote for Suck in the early days of the web.
I have a theory that the reason I am so lazy is because being a programmer teaches me to find the fastest short cut way to do things.
Actually the less code I use to get a task done the better the code is and I get a dopamine hit.
Also, if I write a great script that saves me hours on a boring manual task, I get another dopamine hit.
As a 10x coder I wonder if all these dopamine hits (20+ years) have short circuited my brain and made me want to do everything with the least amount of effort as possible.
Or, maybe I'm just lazy ;)
I tried to read this but I couldnt, thats how lazy I am.
It seems a little ridiculous that the author of the response would know that the "Sloth" isn't actually lazy but really afraid. Especially when the author also tells the "Sloth" to ignore what other people have said about them.
Maybe I'm missing the bigger picture, but how is the author not just another one of the squirrels she describes?
I used to be lazy but then I started using Pomodoro, Fasting, Keto, Going to the Gym, Test Driving Development and microdosing with psilocybin. And I deleted Facebook and quit using Google in favor of Duck Duck Bing.
Now I'm just crazy but no one can accuse me of laziness.
Weirdly, a management book - a sense of urgency by John P. Kotter - was also one of the best book to get things done in my personal life as well.
A quick summary: It’s kind of easy, if you don’t feel a true sense of emergency, you’ll natuaraly not do it.
> You’re choosing a lifestyle of avoidance and low expectations.
What's wrong with that?
Some people have laid their heart open to the benign indifference of the universe and are just like: "what's the point?"
'I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent -- their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy -- they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent -- he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.'
-- Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord (1878-1943), Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr
This may be relevant: "‘I Thought I Was Lazy’: The Invisible Day-To-Day Struggle For Autistic Women" https://theestablishment.co/i-thought-i-was-lazy-the-invisib...
Being lazy is natural and it is what pushes humanity forward. We don't want to do things, so we try to work on it less in the future - automating things, improving efficiency etc.
Being "lazy" about some things is good for you. Do not focus much on stuff which is not very important for you personally.
> Both the cynic and the underachiever are afraid of sticking their necks out and becoming who they deeply, passionately want to become, for fear of looking stupid or failing.
I have also experienced this for an equal but opposite reason. Not a fear of failure but a fear of success, either because it feels undeserved or because of the responsibility that might come with it.
To quote that thing that Mandela didn't say:
> Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
> We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
> Actually, who are you not to be?
The good kind of lazy, is actually often just being very efficient.
Oblomov by Goncharev..
Antipathy, depression, mild burnout, career dissatisfaction, and cannabis.
To be followed later in life by, "I know I am lazy"..
Motivational essays are this are great for some people. Others, on the other hand, are persuaded to avoid seeking help for medical (mental health, hormonal, etc) problems that are wrecking their lives. Overmedication is a problem, yes, but this particular field is catastrophically underdiagnosed because its problems have come to be seen as moral failings and the fault of the sufferer. If you are so "lazy" that you have trouble with day-to-day life, you do not need to "man up" or "reject your self-image". You need to talk to a physician. Such problems are well within their purview. Modern psychiatry has infinitely better cognitive tricks than the moralizing platitudes in motivational essays. If you're really lucky, your physician will guess two-thirds of your symptoms before you describe them, diagnose you with a particular neurochemical deficiency, and prescribe you a medication that, in the space of a week, does more to help you with your problems than you'd managed in your entire life to date.
TL;DR: You aren't qualified to condemn every "lazy" person on the planet, so quit it with the victim-blaming. Some people need this kind of advice but you aren't the person that should be giving it. Let the professionals do it, because they can, first, do no harm.
I wonder whether the author considered what s/he/it compares self against. A manic programmer can go for two days without sleep before collapse. Its extremely unhealthy and socially isolating and to Try to become like that is literally nuts. Ask yourself what all those who archive your dream performance don't have before going for it
We've been carefully programmed to look down on inability to conform and perform tasks that feel meaningless and uninteresting. If anything, most of what we call ADHD and Aspbergers is a superior mental immune system, the ability to act from common sense and truth despite massive outside interference. We would be better off prescribing cannabis and shrooms to the rest of society, they are the ones who really need help.
My wife is exactly similar to the person who wrote this article. I was aware of her procrastinating and lazy side even before we got married. It didn't get any better with time and all my efforts of cajoling her into getting our lives in a routine are in vain. The best example is that she will not get out of the bed on a weekend until I do, doesn't matter if she went to sleep hours before I did.