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There is no shame in being lazy. New study suggests laziness may be the key to survival

What's the point of having comfy couches if there ain't enough couch potatoes?

 |  5-minute read |   23-08-2018
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In all those motivational speeches, inspirational quotes and unsolicited advices about achieving success, sluggish talks about hard work seems to be the only key. The internet is full of listless advices like "there is no other route to success [but hard work]", it is hard work, perseverance, learning, sacrifice and most of all, love for what you are doing".

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

Firstly, what is it that you want to focus on. Is it perseverance? Learning? Sacrifice? Or all of that combined? By the way, how do the two things (sacrifice and love for what you are doing) go together?

For those like me who are tired of being heckled for being lazy and not working hard enough, a recent study, reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that "idleness is an excellent survival strategy". Also, the sloths among us may represent the next stage in human evolution.

lazy_082318054451.jpgPut your feet up: Take a break and enjoy your life. (Credit: Reuters photo)

Finally, some sensible work. Scientists believe they have uncovered a long overlooked "law of natural selection based on survival of the slacker".

But to be accurate, the research was based on nearly 300 types of molluscs that lived in the Atlantic Ocean from the mid-Pliocene to the present. Those that had managed to escape extinction and survived till date tended to be "low maintenance species with minimal energy requirements".

The researchers found that high metabolic rates can predict the likelihood of extinction. US ecologist Bruce Lieberman, co-author of the study, believes that the "lazy" creatures survive because they had a lot less energy and food requirements. The scientists also think they may have stumbled on a general principle that could apply to higher animals, including land-dwelling vertebrates.

The researchers though are thoughtful enough to add words of caution that the study does "not necessarily mean that people who sit on the couch all day watching TV would inherit the earth". According to Lieberman, people who are lazy are actually the ones who "consume the most resources and are causing the biggest peril of our own species".

Then why should the observations make the indolents happy? Well, we are at least ready to put some effort into something — thinking.

Thinking, for that matter, also needs quite a lot of hard work, if you thought otherwise. But most importantly, it needs intelligence. And for those who, by now, are cursing the entire community of couch potatoes for this useless rambling, laziness is also a sign of high intelligence. This was a suggestion by another study in 2016.

The study, by scientists from Florida Gulf Coast University, found people with a high IQ rarely get bored, leading them to spend more time lost in thought. This particular study (oh, how I love all these studies) suggested less intelligent people are more prone to boredom, leading them to do more physical activity as a result.

But research findings or not, there is enough evidence to prove why the lazy lot needn't feel bad about their state of mind.

Pushing the younglings with the promise that "if you work hard, and do the right thing, you will succeed", is not just stupid but inhuman. These assumptions are so misplaced that it can put the future of our next generation at high risk — a future promised to them based on some smart but unproven quotes about hard work.

Imagine working hard since childhood in the hope that success will come to you some day and continue doing so until one day it's time for you to die (how painful!). At least the lazy ones, not striving for anything, are not expecting to get something which anyway is not coming their way. The short-term promises of 'token success stories' only camouflage the overall reality of life.

The reality is that there are many who have been trying hard to get that elusive success. Many have tried even harder in the past, again with no success. And some simply didn't try. Are they worth anything less?

couch_082318052210.jpgVouch for my couch: When hard work and indolence end up on the same couch. (Reuters photo for representational purpose)

Actually not. Because what is success for you may not be what I'm aspiring for. Secondly, such homilies also give the young, impressionable ones the idea that dedication to work is in lieu of material achievements. The hard work is valued only when there is material evidence of success.

C'mon people, what happened to ideals like a life of leisure to enjoy the finer things in life?

Here's one more reality: Your hard work and my indolence ultimately end up on the same couch. Yours may be a high-end sofa, but at the cost of back-breaking, mind-numbing hard work. Mine, on the other hand, could be tattered, but at least my back and mind are both intact.  

Pursuit of indolence could also mean a better standard of life —  a life free of stress, a life free of chasing goals. And if you believe so much in old sayings, didn't they also advise not to run after success.

So, sit back and enjoy your life. Life is not about how much we achieve or strive to run after, but how we feel about ourselves. If it makes us feel good being lazy, we needn't feel ashamed. Take pride in being lazy.

Next time onwards, wear it like a badge of honour. Or better, tuck it under your pillow.

Also read: Using technology to find romance, sex or desire is not lazy

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Sanghamitra Baruah Sanghamitra Baruah

Works at DailyO.

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