Tuesday, January 8, 2013

musing about laziness

Laziness. A human attribute that is universally hated. Employers reject it, teachers loathe it and society views it as a plague, especially in Singapore. Ever since the dawn of civilization, hard work and diligence has always been celebrated instead of laziness. 

Growing up, I could remember the countless stories that were told by my parents, my teachers, my church leaders and even random aunties and uncles that highlight the consequences of being lazy. As the law of the society goes, lazy people will never achieve anything and only through hardwork and diligence can success be achieved.

like it or not, laziness has always been used in a derogatory way

Now, while the above might sound intuitive, after all it is the message that was drilled into us ever since we're young, I cannot help but wonder that if laziness by essence serves no function at all, why is it still around?

You see, going by the laws of Darwin, an attribute that is counterproductive to the human survival and reproduction would gradually be weeded out from the human population sooner or after. Building on that logic and the normal common sense, we could easily imagine how a group of lazy people, who prefers the easy way out in stuff and does minimal work in everyday life, would naturally be not as successful as a group of hardworking people. The lack of success in turn would cause more hardship for the lazy population, for example lesser money and social statuses thus leading them to be unable to reproduce as well as the hardworking population as they will have problems like finding a mate for example. So after generations, one could expect the lazy population, or the lazy gene to thin out and eventually disappear, leaving the hardworking ones behind because they are not as adaptable as the hardworking people. Or so how that would seem, if our society's view that hardwork equals success is true.

You see, even after so many thousand years of being around, the lazy gene has still not died out and the hardworking population has still not yet outnumber the lazy population, judging by the amounts of complaints one can see everyday about lazy coworkers, group mates and subordinates, which leads me to hypothesize that contrary to popular beliefs, being lazy can in fact after all be helpful to our survival. But how?

Unless a full blown research can be carried out, a longitudinal one in fact, where a group of lazy people and a group of hardworking people are tracked across their lifespan to measure their outcome in health and mortality in life we can really never know how being lazy can improve our chances of survival and reproduction, but I'm guessing that when you're lazy, you'll naturally find easier ways to do things and avoid over-stressing yourself, which means in the long term, you might have a better health and you might be happier too.

Of course, that's only my speculation but isn't it interesting if this turns out to be true? After all, psychology has been attempting to explain every attribute of the human, no matter how counter-intuitive it seems, in terms of it's adaptability, for example why men are more pissed off at sexual infidelity instead of emotional infidelity while the opposite is true for woman.

I guess why I have been thinking about this whole laziness issue thing might be due to what has been happening to me lately. You see, I do admit that I am naturally a lazy guy and sometimes, I hate this side of me very much because of how the Singaporean society itself hates laziness as a whole. Productivity, which is closely tied to hardworking-ness (if such word exists), or in order words how many work you can churn out in a short period of time is prized above everything else. People who can work long hours are celebrated, saluted and admired while those who needs their eight hour sleep instead of working late into the night are often viewed in a more negative light.

But then again, if being lazy means a much happier life and less stress, why not? And to quote Bill Gates:

i did my research, he did indeed said this. google it yourself

So I guess if you're a lazy person, be proud of it!


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