The illusion of negative laziness

Imagine you are sitting in front of your computer screen. Besides checking a few of your favorite blogs you can’t seem to get yourself to do anything useful, even though you are not tired at all. Is this a case of negative laziness?

The response of most people would probably be: “Yes, this is clearly a case of laziness of the bad kind. We aren’t doing anything productive even though we probably have enough things to do.” Even though we are not tired and we have stuff to do, laziness is pulling the brake on our willpower in this scenario. But is this really a case of negative laziness or might there be a deeper underlying cause to our inactivity?

Our natural firewall

Being human, we are at least at some deep level conscious of our mortality. Time is a valuable thing. Laziness, our natural firewall, protects us from wasting precious time and energy. But here’s the paradox:

Could it be that we are wasting time by doing nothing productive all day, because unconsciously we are afraid to waste time on doing things that in hindsight don’t seem to be worth it? And if so, how do we get ourselves to get moving anyway when our firewall is seemingly working against itself?

The question that arises from this hypothetical situation is this one: Is laziness really sabotaging its original purpose(protecting us from wasting time) or is it giving us a signal that there might be more going on?


Self-discipline is mostly self-motivation. To motivate yourself to do a certain thing, you first need to see the point of it. The dilemma that laziness faces us with in the situation described above can ironically be solved by laziness itself. Positive laziness to be exact. By only doing what is really necessary, we don’t have to worry that we are wasting our time.

But how do we know if something is really important? This obviously varies from person to person but there is a guideline for this. The main point that it brings us closer to our own goals and dreams. If we don’t have any concrete goals we are trying to achieve, aka we don’t know what we want to do with our lives, it’s hard to determine if what we do is really useful or not. If this is the case, our main priority should be finding a passion or a dream that resonates with us.

Back to the question:

“When we waste our entire day because you can’t seem to get ourselves to do anything useful, because laziness is pulling the break on our willpower, is this a case of negative laziness?”

Not necessarily, it might be a signal that we should re-examine our priorities so we can get more out of this life.


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