The following is a list of article-stubs which the Get Help Get Active staff are thinking to add to our blog. Each of these (proposed) articles is an attempt to explore an idea that relates to the sickness of laziness, with an eye towards finding a cure. Please leave a comment to vote on which article(s) you would most be interested in reading. That way we will know where to focus our energies for going forward. Also, if you would like to write an article of your own (either based on one of the following stubs or your own idea), then we would be very happy to invite you to join the PAL editorial staff. In any case, your comments and ideas are always welcome!
Here are a list of article-stubs which are still being “cooked up”. Which ones would you be most interested in reading?
Comics – A multi-page “sub-blog” with cartoons and humorous charts or articles re laziness. Much truth is spoken in jest. Examples:
- CHART: how unemployed (and supposedly looking for work) people actually spend their day – with examples ranging from lazy to industrious.
- CARTOON: a mother banging on her son’s bedroom door and yelling at him to look for a job. Its 2 PM and the son is still in bed. Excuses.
- CARTOON: a PAL missionary interviewing graduating college students. Asking what their majors were and what kind of jobs they expect to find.
- ARTICLE: anecdotes describing the lifestyles of lazy people that we have met over the years – who have provided the inspiration for PAL.
- FLOWCHART: an exhaustive analysis of all possible excuses for wasting the day. How to creatively evade all opportunities to succeed.
- CARTOON: hiring manager interviews prospective employee. Asks why he hasn’t found a job in 99 weeks.
- CARTOON: students in a college dorm complaining about math and science courses. They rationalize why it makes sense to major in fine arts, instead.
Laziness vs Depression: Is there a Difference? – Many people are of the view that laziness does not actually exist. The problem with this perspective is that it seems to define “personal responsibility” right out of existence. PAL’s view is that Depression does really exist – as well as many other illnesses, mental and physical. These illness do indeed have a real impact on an individual’s strength level when it comes time for them to exert themselves in “productive activity.” At the same time, we believe that there is another sense in which productive activity is a personal choice.
This discussion helps us to form a simple definition of laziness: When work is morally obligatory, but a person chooses to not exert themselves to the level (perhaps a diminished level) at which they are capable (or, at least to the level necessary to satisfy the obligation in question), then that is laziness. So … when is work morally obligatory? That is a very good question – one which we shall attempt to address in another article.
Work Ethic: Stories of Change and Renewal – How can a person change from having a bad work ethic to having a good work ethic? This article explores examples of life-changing incidents which are commonly associated with a change in work ethic. Our goal is to see if there are lessons that can be drawn from these examples, and then applied to lazy clients.
Examples of life events which tend to impact work ethic:
- My girlfriend is pregnant.
- This is my last chance.
- The judge told me that I need to keep my nose clean – or else.
- Getting beaten up.
- There is something that I really want to have.
- My child desperately needs something.
- The doctor just told me that I only have 3 months to live.
- A brush with death causes me to realize that I don’t have forever.
- Seeing a contemporary succeed with a major goal.
So what is the common element? Fear? Responsibility? Shame? Pain? Desire? Sense of one’s own mortality? Love? Proof that success is do-able? All of the above? Interestingly, even in the cases under consideration, there are still many people who would not be strongly impacted by them. Perhaps the degree to which a person would be influence by one of these events is tied to their instinct for self-preservation. A person with a low sense of self-preservation (or even a death wish) might be barely impacted by an incident that reminds them of their own mortality.
Temporal Selfishness – Selfishness may be part of the underlying cause of sloth. For example, if a person is selfish, then, once their personal needs have been met, they may decide that they do not want to expend any further energy to help to meet the needs of others in the community. But, how about the concept of selfishness as it applies to the individual themselves, but at different periods in their own life? For example, imagine a selfish college freshman who does not want to spend time studying because they know that they wont have to enter the work-force for another 4 years? The thinking might go like this: “Me in 2011 does not feel the pain (or joy) of ‘Me in 2015’ – so, I think that I am just going to take care of ‘Me in 2011’ now, and let that 2015 person handle things himself when his turn comes …” This may be a powerful idea. It might also be a type of schizophrenia since there is a sense in which the individual views himself as two separate people.
How Much Help is Enough? – “The eyes of man are never full.” (Solomon) “Scarborough Fair” is a song that discusses a lost and embittered love. The singer lists a series of impossible conditions that his “true-love” must full-fill in order to regain the romantic connection. The point is that the singer does not really want to regain the romantic connection, regardless of any proof of love that could be provided to him. The list of impossible conditions insulates the singer from coming to terms with the fact that he has already decided to sabotage the relationship, regardless of his former sweet-heart’s display of sincerity. Could there be a similar dynamic in the minds of some career seekers? For example, some people excuse their lack of job-search by pointing out that they do not have a computer + high-speed modem in their own home. Prior to 2000, most people did not have access to computers in their homes, so what was the excuse then? Perhaps that their local library did not have computers and modems? Prior to 1990, most libraries did not have computers, so what was their excuse then?
The point is that, for a person who is not really eager to accomplish a task, it becomes very easy for them to invent impossible obstacles that prevent them from ever getting started on the task.
Benjamin Franklin said: “A man who is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else.” Public libraries are available in nearly every community in the USA. These libraries contain books that explain in minute detail, exactly the skills that a person would need to know in order to be able to perform many different types of work. For people who do not know how to read, there are books that will teach you that, too! And for a completely illiterate person, it is very likely that the librarian or other community volunteer would be willing to teach you the basics of how to read and how to use a dictionary. 120 years ago, libraries were not nearly as widely available. In many cases, they were not free, either. But now they are both widely available and free. So what is your excuse, now? How much help is enough help? (This also ties in with the ideas behind the article stub for “Knowledge and Anti-Knowledge” below.)
Structured Procrastination – For more details see: http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/
My Life’s Mission – People who have a “mission” that is greater than their own life tend to be more productive (or at least more goal oriented.) Clients need to be encouraged to answer the question: “What is my mission in life?” For a person who is very religious, the mission normally revolves around their idea of what God’s will is for their life. While there are notable examples in which people seem to be mistaken about the will of God, at least we can agree that religiously-centered people tend to be do-ers. In any case, by being a do-er, a person avoids being a non-do-er (which pretty much sums up one definition of laziness.) Presumably, when God’s will is correctly understood, the “doing” involves something worthwhile. In summary, by taking some time to decide on my mission in life, it will, presumably help me to avoid laziness. In a way this sounds kind of scary since it seems to suggest “giving up on myself.” Whoever looses his life (for my sake) will gain it. (Jesus Christ said that.) Also, there is a potential for mistakenly picking up nutty life mission. History is replete with people, who, from our perspective today, picked up nutty life missions. People with a Mission (nutty or not) tend to command much more respect than people who just serve their personal interests. Warning: in the case in which a person adopts a mission, which they subsequently decide to be worthless, there might be a big sense of depression as they realize their mistake. For this reason, a person should be encouraged to pick their mission wisely.
Things that cannot be directly measured – Sloth is very difficult to measure or define. The important things in life are, generally, difficult to measure. A common criticism of PAL, is that, because the subject matter is so difficult to define, it is therefore ridiculous to attempt to influence it. This article addresses that question by pointing out that there are many other items in the same category. For many of these important, but difficult-to-measure entities, there are specific steps that can be taken to “move the ball” in the direction of improvement. Conclusion: Laziness is difficult to define and measure. Keeping Laziness under control is an important part of a having a meaningful and fulfilling life. Although it is difficult to directly impact Laziness, there are specific steps which can be taken which will have, as a by-product, an improvement in an individual’s willingness to be focused and productive. The PAL charter is therefore a worthwhile and obtainable pursuit.
Examples of things that are difficult to measure: Love, friendship, peace-of-mind, purpose, courage, gratitude, trust. These are things that give meaning to life. So far as human life is concerned, if anything is “real”, then these are real. /// Alternatively, here are some things that can be very accurately measured: money, property, clothes, jewels, gold. While these things give security and comfort to life, they are all things that, at the end of the day, do not give (much) meaning to life. To the extent that they do give meaning to life, the meaning is “shallow.” /// Examples of (negative) things that are important, but difficult to measure. The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Greed, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy & Sloth. We know them when we experience them.
The Four Types of Lazy People – In regards to the question of being self-supporting, there are four types of lazy people. Because of this, the word “lazy” has (at least) four different meanings. The reason that this is important to know is that, when a word has more than one meaning, there is always a danger of confusion due to mixing the meanings when we use the word to discuss some issue.
The four types of lazy people are:
- people who are not self-supporting,
- people who are working and self-supporting,
- retired people.
This article compares and contrasts the issues that each group faces. The PAL focus is on Type#2: People who are not self-supporting and, who self-identify as being Lazy. Discussion of the various fields (apart from self-support) in which sloth can show itself: intellectual growth, physical exercise, maintaining relationships, keeping one’s home or car in repair, doctor/dentist/eye-doctor visits, community involvement, schoolwork. The reason that the “self-support” field (as opposed to any of the other manifestations of sloth) is the focus for PAL is that it is:
- the primary focus of most people’s time and energy,
- failure in this area causes a ripple effect that negatively impacts all other aspects of life,
- human survival is ultimately based on the ability and willingness of the individual to gather resources (i.e., “work”) for food / shelter / clothing / reproduction.
The above article is partially written, already.
The Blood-Letting Model for Curing Laziness – In the 1700’s Doctors used leeches to treat illnesses. Their theory was that sickness was due to an excess of “bad” blood – so, they attempted to treat the underlying condition by removing blood with leeches. They called this “blood-letting.” From the perspective of modern medicine, we now know that this treatment probably killed many more patients than it cured. Hence, even without having any medical training, a uneducated lay person from 2011 would be able to improve the medical treatment of patients in the 1700’s simply by recommending that they get rid of all of the leeches. (Perhaps by just squishing them?) //// People Against Laziness has an analogous “treatment” to reduce the severity of Laziness in a patient. Even though we do not have a specific medicine that we can “add” to the patient (in the sense of a pill to cure sloth), we can at least recommend that patients “remove” their faulty, life-blood-draining excuses for being lazy. In this sense, removing irrational excuses for laziness (even without adding a replacement treatment) will tend to improve the patient in the same sense that removing leeches would have been an improvement for patients in the 1700’s (even without adding a replacement medicine.)
Encouragement vs Pestering – PAL counselors work with clients by encouraging them to continue in their efforts to become self-supporting. This article examines the fine line between encouragement and pestering (or nagging). What is the optimal frequency of contact between a counselor and their client? Experience shows that this is partly a judgement call and partially something that can be agreed upon (via contract) between a counselor and client.
ACS and PAL – Explores the differences and similarities between the ACS (American Cancer Society) and PAL (People Against Laziness.) Part of the motivation for this article is to respond to the frequently offered criticism of PAL that: “There is no possible cure for Laziness!” We show that Cancer and Laziness are similar in that there are:
- Some cases which are curable
- Some cases which go into seemingly spontaneous remission,
- Some cases which are (currently) not curable.
Another similarity between Cancer and Laziness is that both conditions annually cause many billions of dollars of economic damage, as well as incalculable loss in terms of human suffering. Just as the ACS would be wrong to use those cases of incurable cancer as a justification to abandon their research into curing cancer, so PAL continues our research even in the face of some (seemingly) incurable cases of Laziness. This article is partially written, already.
A Vision for Growth – How we would like to see PAL expand across all communities that contain Lazy people who request help. Clients will enter contact information via the website, and then they will be connected with a free, volunteer, non-professional anti-sloth counselor/mentor in their area. Ideas for TV advertising. Ideas for government lobbying efforts to eliminate programs which currently encourage or reward lazy behavior.
Training for Marketable Job Skills – Job training is a significant barrier for many unemployed people. It often happens that, the job that a person would like to apply for, requires a skill-level that they do not have. The traditional or usual response to this obstacle is either a) to seek specialized training in a college or trade-school or b) to use the expense and/or inconvenience of continuing education as an excuse to give up on one’s hoped-for career. Case “b” may even mean “remaining unemployed or un-self-supporting.” ///// This article describes multiple job-skills which can be either a) entirely self-taught or b) partially self-taught (at least to the point that would enable a job-applicant to get an interview.) In any case, a key requirement for successful self-teaching is self-discipline and dedication – two qualities which Lazy people often lack. Although it is true that many positions do require a certain level of University degree or skill certification, there are also a large number of employers who recognize the value in hiring someone who has already made an independent effort to self-educate. This article is partially written, already.
Does Depression Cause Laziness? Does Laziness Cause Depression? Clarification of terms that have multiple meanings: Depression and Laziness. /// Depression can have a basis in 1) a brain chemistry-based sickness or 2) legitimately grieving over a loss. There is also 3) a subjective sense of depression which is one by-product of self-chosen inactivity. In this sense, the feeling of Depression may simply be self-loathing due to regret over lost time and opportunity or just the perception of the lack of self-discipline. /// Self-chosen inactivity (when activity and productivity is morally obligatory) is another way of looking at Laziness. Discussion of self-pity as a personal choice, and the impact of that choice on productive activity levels. /// The danger of disingenuously mixing the three separate meanings of the word “Depression.” /// One symptom of Depression (in all 3 meanings) is that there is a decrease in productivity or enthusiasm. This decrease in productivity is also a symptom of Laziness, although the cause of the decrease in productivity many not, itself, be Laziness. Notice: there are at least three possible causes (per the three definitions of Depression) for the symptom of low productivity – but one of those causes is Laziness. The determination of the actual cause may, in some cases, be especially difficult because Depression 1, 2 and 3 may over-lap with one another.
Conclusion: Laziness (in the sense of self-chosen inactivity when activity and productivity is morally obligatory) will always cause a subjective sense of Depression. Likewise, Depression (in the sense of meaning 3 above) can encourage Laziness by deepening the rut of the inactive-lifestyle’s psychological support system. Hence, we see a vicious and debilitating circle.
Perception Of Exertion – Physical exertion is fairly easy for everyone to see. The tell-tale signs are sweat & heavy breathing. For cognitive exertion, it is much more difficult to quickly eye-ball where a person is at in terms of concentration.
Reasonable Self-Exertion – Get Help Get Active uses the three ideas of: Laziness, Reasonable Self-Exertion and Workaholism. What do these terms mean? Of course, in each individual’s life, there would have to be a custom definition. Introduces the idea of a Work Ideal. Something to aim for every day.
This Job Doesn’t Make Sense – article about the phenomenon of working somewhere in which you dont understand why the boss wants you to do a certain task. So that makes the performance of that task more aggravating. Of course, the correct action is to just suspend one’s own thinking. (We are not paying you to think – we’re paying you to deliver paint!) So, out of all cases in which TJDMS occurs in businesses, is it actually true that the action in question is truely counter-productive to the companies bottom-line? Probably in many cases it really *is* a wise action. So this shows that lower-level employees often do not see the big picture. So they cant trust their initial instincts. /// Here’s the switch – TJDMS also applies in the case of people studying to improve job skills. At least in the generic sense. How often have students been know to say things like: “School is dumb, I’m never going to need this (about math, etc.)” So the point is that it is important to be willing to do things that do not make sense (in the near term) in order to obtain the long term benefit (at which point it will make sense.)
To Do Or Not To Do – The fundamental dilemma of all people afflicted by the habit of low self-exertion.
Should I Be Happy Or Sad? A person’s ability and willingness to be effective on a given day is often affected by his or her emotional state. Generally, the positive emotional states are more conducive to action, although there are notable exceptions. Positive emotional states can generally be induced by choosing to think about specific happy things – and the opposite is true for negative emotional states, too. So, all else being equal, so far as the goal of Reasonable Self Exertion is concerned, a person will be in a better state of mind if their emotional state is a positive one.
People sometimes say to themselves, it would not be fair for me to attempt to induce a positive state of mind today (by thinking about positive things), because that would not be an honest reflection of reality. This article addresses that objection by pointing out that, in the day to day cases, an individual’s happiness or sadness is often chosen without regard for an honest look at the merits (so far as an honest reflection of reality is concerned) of attempting to induce either the happy or sad state.
You can easily prove this to yourself by comparing two states of mind with two states of external reality. So there are four combinations all together:
- A happy person in a happy state of being.
- A happy person in an unhappy state of being.
- An unhappy person in a happy state of being.
- An unhappy person in an unhappy state of being.
I thought of this in connection with reading articles on the internet which made me feel dread about the direction that the world is moving. My observation is that, when I read articles about very terrible happenings, it tends to depress me and leave me feeling hopeless. On the other hand, when I read articles about happy things, it tends to leave me in a more upbeat frame of mind. So, the question is – which of those two is the “honest reflection of reality”?
Of course, oftentimes the unhappy articles embody a call to action. So, there is a danger in reading only happy articles, if that is my method to avoid action. I am thinking that this way of looking at things probably ran through many people’s minds prior to WW2 – and they concluded that the best thing to do would be to ignore the building horrors as the war developed. But, in that kind of situation, it was a serious mistake. So, from that perspective, it would have been a more worthwhile use of their overall resources to focus on the unhappy state of being – if it would have been enough of a prick to their conscience to get them to take the action to make reasonable preparations for the coming war.
But, for the day to day questions of just getting a job and becoming self-supporting, I suspect that a person’s frame of mind is better served by looking at the good news.