“You didn’t do anything productive today!”
Do you hear this statement and think of it as an insult? I used to. I took it to mean that I was a slur of awful things: lazy, wasteful, unappreciative of time, useless. In the culture I grew up in, being productive was the equivalent to your level of success. The message being spread was, Keep busy! Do more! Accomplish things! For the world around me, it meant kids were involved in more extracurricular activities, families spent weekends at tournaments or competitions, and colleges strongly considered the amount and variety of activities you did outside of class. Students (including me) loaded their coursework with AP/honors courses, after school clubs, and private lessons. Even the style of living changed, as families began having less children than previous generations. I won’t get off on an tangent now, but I attribute a great deal of that decline to the extra pressures of being the “do-it-all” parent. I experienced the world around me in this way, constantly rushing to ensure time was spent productively.
I recently heard this comment from Jonathan at the end of an evening he spent finishing school work while I relaxed on the couch nearby. Initially, it stung me. I felt the urge to defend myself and mention anything I did that could be consider “productive” (like, “I finished an entire season of this show-that’s impressive!”). Then, however, I remembered some of the valuable lessons I’ve slowly learned in the last year.
Quantity is not quality.
Rest is healthy, not lazy.
Being busy isn’t being productive.
Not long ago I picked up a book on a coffee shop table. Its title caught my eye, something along the lines of “How to be Lazy”. I enjoyed flipping through the photo pages that included advice such as, “Spend an afternoon in a hammock” and “Take naps”. I smiled to myself, since I had recently adopted a more “lazy” lifestyle. I love naps, baths, and extra hours of sleep. I love taking a walk for no reason and spending an entire day in my pajamas. In addition, I refuse to feel like I’m wasting this time. My time spent resting after a day of work or unwinding over the weekend is not useless. It is a crucial part of my routine that keeps me feeling young, healthy, and alive. It gives me space to open up my creativity, have meaningful conversations with others, and spend quality time with myself. I also refuse to feel like I owe all my time to productivity. The world around me feels like it’s constantly picking up the pace and I’ll do anything I can to slow myself down. My minutes and hours are precious.
Do you enjoy being “lazy”? Here’s a trick to try on your friends. Next time you ask someone “What’s new?” and they reply along the lines of, “Oh, you know, just very busy! You?”, give them an unexpected response like, “Oh that’s too bad! I’m doing well, just taking naps and resting as much as I can.” Just wait to see the look on their face!