Be as lazy as you have the courage to be

Somehow I’ve never thought of myself as lazy although Miss Foley–my high school homeroom teacher–did call me a procrastinator.
But truthfully, I’ve never been too sure about her assessment because what I was actually doing was reading books when, in her mind, I should have been doing class assignments.
And now a half-century later, I’m pretty sure my choice was better than hers.
Even if she had been right, procrastination isn’t all that bad. It’s just putting off until tomorrow what really should be done today while you scurry around today doing something you deem more important.
It has absolutely nothing to do with being lazy.
But laziness . . . that’s a label I could never abide! Slothful. Sluggish. Inactive. Lethargic. Dull. Slow. Apathetic. Indolent. Careless. Sloppy. Shiftless. No-good.
It’s hard to find anything positive in that list. Besides, all the people I grew up with seemed to believe in hard work as the way to get ahead. Sometimes it seems I come from a long line of workaholics. Even today, most of the people I know would qualify for the label.
It was psychologist Dr. Wayne Oates who first coined the word “workaholic” more than two decades ago. And almost right away, he understood the dangers of the addiction.
Consequently, his second book on the topic was written on what he considered to be the appropriate antidote to workaholism–laziness.
“Workaholics, Make Laziness Work for You” is a sharply targeted book. In his introduction, Dr. Oates makes it crystal clear that this is not a book for freeloaders, malingerers, and parasites.
But rather, he said, this book “is addressed to the driven ones, the work-addicted ones, the people who have earned the right to be lazy.” The people who may be too addicted to work to ever cash in on the privilege they have earned.
If workaholism was a problem in 1975 when Dr. Oates wrote the book, today–a quarter century later–it has become an epidemic.
Authors Richard Leider and David Shapiro address the dilemma of today’s workaholism in their best-selling “Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Rest of Your Life.”
“Work is not working for many people,” they say. And they go on to describe how the disloyalty of both employers and employees has created a situation in which no one is secure and everyone works too hard.
“People are tired, frustrated, and fed up,” the authors conclude. In other words, the workaholism that Dr. Oates warned about in 1975 has blossomed into an ugly flower.
So now might be the perfect time to listen to the antidote he proposes to be.
So whatever your age, why not take a look at your own life right now. If you’ve worked and contributed in a conscientious manner, you’ve earned the right to some laziness. Now the question is will you have the courage to claim it?
Can you start by taking a mini-vacation today? And then follow up by simplifying your demands and saying “no” to new commitments?
Why wait for illness or tragedy to give you permission to take time off? Why not breathe new energy into your day-to-day life by having the courage to cash in on the laziness you’ve earned.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.

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