People are not lazy. They only get stunned when confronted with opposing powers that block their creative force. Last week I found myself unmotivated and dull, strolling pointlessly over Netflix series and social media, while important work was waiting right across from me, staring back critically as I was wasting my time away. “We all need a break,” I said to myself, justifying it. “What’s the point of hustling all the time if you can’t stop every now and then to smell the roses”. A set of good conventional lies to cover harsher truths I did not want to face. Taking a day off of course is not the issue, but knowing myself I was adopting a behavior that was not indicative of me and the underlying reason was hovering around like a little bug I was too afraid to confront.
It was only after soul-crushing digging that I realized that something in my working environment had annoyed me. The preposterous approach of two other coworkers got into me at such a level that stumbled me from doing my best. Something that would have got unacknowledged had I not become the party-pooper, that kept asking questions while my lazy side was eating pizza, and snooping out beer cans. So the reason for my lazy rebellion, was not fatigue or charging the batteries, or anything else, but believing that my good work was going in vain. The idea got me dumbfounded. Taking some time off was not something to be dismissed, but rather a symptom of an issue that needed to be resolved. And in that case, that issue seemed to be the competitiveness I was receiving, which was enough to put me down in my chair letting my aspirations fly out of the window while I was skimming Netflix.
If that is true at such a micro-term level, how many other things affect us throughout our lives without even realizing it? What else is weighting our psyches that goes unnoticed and most importantly, what are the cues that point us to sit down in our chair and what those that push us forward adding a grumbling tone in our voice?
Under the light of these questions, I was hooked like the chop that suddenly realized he has been cheated all his life from what was due to him while sleeping the calmest sleep. Below is an investigation of what impels us to strive harder and fluid us with motivation and what derails us to empty shells.
How Punishment Works
There is no approach more common that punishment in terms of driving action. It has always been used as the main weapon to take control or gain access to someone’s resources. The father threatens the child physically or psychologically to do his homework; the boss is holding the stick of unemployment up if you do not reach the necessary productivity levels, and society speaks of abomination for the unsuited members inside it. Punishment is everywhere and has been used massively by society, as a tool that shapes its people to act in its rules.
But how strong a motivator really punishment is in terms of being a constructive force? Does a kid improve when he disciplines over the fear of being spanked? Is someone more productive when he is faced with the possibility of losing his job? Or to get a bit more tricky morally. Would you be happy if a big corporation donated money to philanthropy if you knew they only did it to avoid taxes? They would still have done something good, wouldn’t they?
What we fail to realize many times, is that a forced behavior can only get you so far before the opportunity arises to slip out like a cat. Things won’t be the same when regulation changes on tax-reduction or when you won’t be able to monitor every movement of an employee. These are all examples of temporarily good results that are eligible to vanish given the first chance.
Money and Vanity
And the situation wouldn’t be much different if you replace punishment with various rewards like money and fame. Sure, you would be eligible for temporary goods and things that seem positive, but all of them would be ready to shatter at the first chance of change. Any reward that is external is creating a very explicit contract that you sign on like a lawyer in his unscathed suit. You agree the terms and conditions that you’ll be doing your work for as long as you get something back. Both punishment and material possessions can be substituted for that something and there would be nothing wrong with this exchange if not for the fact that you can assert no control to the other side of the contract.
How Hoarding is Killing You And Minimalism
A little while back I stumbled upon a donation prompt that some acquaintances brought forth to me for a philanthropic cause. Although I accepted, my internal response was a capricious grin of being bothered for no reason or even being ripped off in some sense. Why should I give something that I worked so hard to attain? As much as we may like to help others when the time comes for giving it may seem a rather draining act that we deep down assume to be somewhat unjust.
But what I realized is that there was a very particular effect from that act that I wouldn’t have anticipated beforehand. Giving, forces you to reengage with the world. And the truth of that becomes more apparent once you have a look at the phycological basis of hoarding. Being attached to things at an egotistical level contains a very bleak and harsh underlying philosophy that supports the whole structure. You make sure to “keep” anything that might become resourceful to you, in the present or some point in the future, in a way that gives you independence and a ‘f*ck all the rest of you’ mentality. You provide for yourself so that you don’t have to ask for anything from others. What a cruel mentality to have and live by. One can imagine the lone wolf that being able to sustain himself on his own, refutes society, and lives his life cut out from others.
“Hell Is Other People”
Of course, someone doesn’t need to get rid of his belongings to re-immerse in the world. As long as you realize the phycological truth of ‘holding out’ for yourself and understand that keeping stuff equals to closing out from others, you have a good basis to be unaffected by it.
Why Minimalism Works
I used to be the kind of person that loves over-packed houses. I would decorate every space in the wall with paintings and little pictures that would be even remotely cute and overstuff rooms with unnecessary furniture or other redundant things. None of them would offer any real value and it would be very hard for me to get rid of anything out of fear that it might be needed in the future. It doesn’t matter if it was the ugly red shirt that I bought 8 months ago and never wore, or if it was the little coffee machine that would rust in the corner and was never used. I would keep all of them in place just in case…And that ‘just in case’ is a key idea for this mentality.
And again there is nothing wrong with a beautiful house overloaded with gleamy green plates on the walls covering all surfaces. You can do that and whatever else you might find interesting or intriguing. But the problem arises the moment that you indulge in your personal assets in such a degree that you start to suffice your ego in the accumulation of them, and turn your back away from the world. As counterintuitive as it might be the more self-sufficient you become in subtle phycological ways, the less engaged you need to be with others, as there is no need for you to do so.
“The things you own, end up owning you.” — Tyler Durden
The Problem With Scarcity
There are so many examples of creative people coming out of broken environments, that someone would assume that this drive is directly connected to the lack of love they might have received at a younger age. The common stereotype goes that this feeling of lack pushed them to search for it in other means and in particular through their work. And that may be true to some degree, but the relation of someone using his craft as a means to gain acceptance from others can only be detrimental, sooner or later.
What we forget many times is that people are neither lazy nor undriven by default. We assume that in the perfect scenario that someone would have everything he needed at his disposal and was free to act at his will, he would choose a comfortable armchair to sit out the whole day. That he would spend his whole time doing nothing else but enjoying the good stuff and drink cocktails. But that is simply not true. We all have a strong natural urge to give back to the world and leave our unique fingerprint to it. And we all have the very particular talents that have been rasped through our experiences and personality traits and can only be found in our unique idiosyncrasies.
The problem most of the time is that people haven’t found that outlet that is compatible with society and they can devote themselves without spending their life in extreme poverty. The current economic and social reality commands that we are raised in a way that fits in the social structure and provides some sort of value for us to be accepted. What this ‘value’ thing means exactly is completely arbitrary and fluent to the particular ways of each society. Unfortunately, we are not at that point in history that people can spot the sectors that can be both helpful to others and provide the satisfaction and need for fulfillment they have deep inside. But the fact that we haven’t reached that point yet, doesn’t mean that there is no drive within everyone and that it wouldn’t manifest in the first chance. The main problem is in removing the blockages and letting it pour out on its own, not in cultivating it.0