Lazy for Life

Lazy Owl

About 2 years ago I was visiting Prague, and I had the opportunity to go to a raptor sanctuary. While there, the group got to see, hold and interact with all sorts of amazing birds, from owls and eagles to falcons and hawks.

It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had.

However, out of everything I did and heard that day, one thing in particular stood out to me. The guy overseeing the experience, the owner of the sanctuary, said this: “Raptors are LAZY. You wouldn’t believe how lazy. Watch.”

And then he proceeded to show us just how lazy these birds are 🀣

Lazy Joke

However, while he said lazy, what he really meant was efficient. These birds weigh very little, and flight expends a large amount of energy, so the less they move, the less energy they use. They have evolved not to be “lazy” per se, but to be energy efficient.

They hunt when they need to, and relax when they don’t. They don’t hoard excess. They eat what they need, and stop. In essence they live and function to maintain equilibrium, expending only as much energy as is necessary and not a bit more.

And this brings us around to the idea of lazy…

Once upon a time, the vast majority of a human’s time was spent trying to acquire enough calories to survive and thrive. From our hunter gatherer days, to agrarian societies of yore, it took a TON of effort to acquire “enough”.

In such a world, where so much effort was needed to feed and clothe and house humanity, I guess an intense work ethic made sense.

But how about now?

While we’re not in a post-scarcity economy yet, we are getting closer and closer. A very small percentage of humanity produces all of our food, so we’re not (for the most part) calorie constrained anymore…very much the opposite in many places (and every continent produces more than enough calories on average now, according to the data).

As society has progressed, and as technology has advanced, we’ve been able to largely decouple time and effort from productivity and value, and so today we find ourselves in a very different position from our ancestors.

In a position, all things considered, of abundance.

And while lazy is still used in a derogatory fashion, I believe that usage really misses the mark. Lazy can be GOOD!

Bill Gates Lazy Quote

I think the first thing to understand is this: efficiency is generally a positive, and inefficiency is generally a negative.

As such, I believe there are actually two types of lazy: efficient lazy, and inefficient lazy.

Inefficient lazy (parasitical lazy? entitlement?) is not doing enough, despite being capable, and yet expecting others to carry your load. In a society that is not yet post-scarcity, this type of lazy is indeed a negative.

Inefficiency is generally wasteful (though there are exceptions), and being wasteful is typically not a trait to be prized.

But what about efficient lazy?

It is vain to do with more what can be done with less

Efficiency, on the other hand, is often prized. It shows ingenuity, good stewardship, intelligence, and more.

One thing we all have in common is a limited amount of time. We’re born, we live, and we die, and we never know just how much time we have in our allotment.

As such, does it not make sense to be as efficient as possible wherever feasible?

On of my favorite books, The 4-Hour Workweek, has the following quote:

“I will take as a given that, for most people, somewhere between six and seven billion of them, the perfect job is the one that takes the least time.” – Tim Ferriss

Most people, for a wide variety of reasons, do not end up in jobs that they love, doing things they love, with people they love.

For these people, a job is a means to an end (money), and any time spent on said job is time they can’t spend on things they truly love.

Wasted time.

All of these things considered then, is it not in their best interest to find ways to be efficient as possible? To expend as little of their most precious resource, time, on things they don’t love?

That, to me is not laziness, but wisdom.

Such people are not lazy, but simply not inspired or energized by such work.

I have observed, time and time again, that when one is involved in a task one loves, there is NEVER a lack of motivation. No laziness is present. On the contrary, someone engaged in a task they love is likely to slip into flow, to lose track of time, and to perhaps have to pry themselves away for things like food and rest πŸ˜‚

As a society, we have far too many worker:work mismatches, people doing tasks for which they lack aptitude, interest, passion, etc.

People WANT to do work they love, that they feel has real meaning and value. They probably don’t want to take orders and flip burgers at McDonald’s.

Nobody wants to be just another replaceable cog in a machine designed to enrich another.

And that’s exactly what most people are…but it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Research suggests that in an eight-hour day, the average worker is only productive for two hours and 53 minutes.” I’ve seen numerous studies over the years that have shown more or less the same thing.

Clearly laziness efficiency is quite common.

What would a world look like where everyone only had to spend time on the things they love? On things that inspire them, or that give their lives a sense of meaning?

Perhaps something like Star Trek.

What if we bent our wills and our technology towards engineering a society of abundance for all? Through focused research and extensive automation, we could almost certainly bring the costs of healthcare, education, housing, clothing, food, and utilities down to almost zero.

Universal Basic Services.

While I’ve been crystal clear that I believe Universal Basic Income won’t work, I believe Universal Basic Services absolutely would, and we possess all or almost all of the technology to make this a reality for everyone…if we can overcome the greed that prevents it.

It would take care of the bottom rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and in so doing free people to pursue the higher rungs. And in a world where nobody HAS to work, where anyone could pick a vocation out of passion, what wonders would we see unfold? How much depression and anxiety would evaporate? How much anger and hatred would disappear?

I’d love to see a world where everyone could spend their time only on the things that leave them feeling energized, where they can be “lazy” and happy and fulfilled.

I’ve been working for years to efficiently build such a life for myself, and while I’ve not quite nailed it, I’m closer than I’ve ever been.

I spend VERY little time on things I don’t love, and the vast majority of my hours on things that bring me great joy.

Walks in nature, reading books, listening to music, playing games, writing, thinking, watching movies, laughing, eating, sleeping, fucking, and on and on as my energy drives me 😁

That sort of “laziness”, to me, is true freedom.

Lazy for Life


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Sam McRoberts

Author of Screw the Zoo. CEO of VUDU Marketing.