Chodron’s third kind of harmful laziness is the “Couldn’t Care Less” form. This is a harder, tougher version of “Loss of Heart.” For in this type of apathy, we are hardened and angry at the world. We are “aggressive and defiant.” If someone tries to cheer us up, we lash out at them. We use “laziness as a way of getting revenge.” But really, we hurt ourselves the most.
Until we decide to investigate and objectively look at our intentions, we will continue this destructive pattern. We will continue to have our “problems”: health, relationships and career.
It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. Sometimes, we don’t want to “get real.” We are comfortable in our habitual patterns of laziness. But the benefits of doing the work will greatly outweigh any temporary comfort.
An oft-overlooked enemy of our confidence and strength is laziness. Pema Chodron identifies three different types of laziness. Today, I will address the first: Comfort Orientation. People (we) “tend to avoid inconvenience.”
Chodron accurately describes our tendency to want to be comfortable immediately in her book The Places That Scare You. At the first sign of cold, we seek heat. When it gets warm, we seek the cool. We will drive rather than walk a block in the rain.
This habit leads us to be aggressive. We get outraged at inconvenience. As soon as we lose internet connection, we feel personally attacked! Acting this way, developing the habit of seeking comfort in an urgent manner, also robs us of full appreciation through our senses: sights, sounds, and smells (Chodron, p. 90).
True joy eludes us when we are perpetually being at the mercy of constant comfort. When we act this way, the locus of control is outside of us.
How then, do we rectify this? Get curious! Ask yourself, “Why am I suffering? Why does nothing lighten up? Why do my dissatisfaction and boredom get stronger year by year?” (Chodron, 91).
Stories might arise. And we might realize that we do not have to believe these stories anymore. Do not resist laziness. (What we resist only grows stronger). Instead, be curious.
I made a couple changes this year and they’ve led to greater productivity (published my first book, lost a couple pounds and enjoyed more quality time with family). I thought I’d share them with you:
Create an Intentions List, not a “To Do” List. Reflecting on your intentions (as opposed to “tasks”) ensures your actions are aligned to your deepest values. When you sit down to enumerate all the things you want to get done, think about your intentions. Is it your intention to help others? Bring joy to loved ones? Be creative at work? This line of questioning will lead to precise calibration of your actions to your ultimate goals.
Make your first intention task easy and simple. Crossing a task off your list will light up the rewards center of your brain. It gives you a natural boost! Start the day off with an (easy) sense of accomplishment. Set yourself up for success!
“Always meditate on whatever provokes resentment.”
– Pema Chodron
I stepped up my workout yesterday and this morning (in pain) I asked, why did I do that to myself? The answer: I want to be strong and flexible and … I want to look good in my swimsuit. 😉 Completing an “easy” workout would not have the same effect. Sure, I’d burn a few calories, but without the extra burn and stress on my muscles, I would see little benefit.
It’s this way with our mental muscles, too. Pema Chodron, a world reknown Buddhist nun and author of several books, (including The Places That Scare You), informs readers that it takes effort to experience peace and happiness. One must be attentive and aware of one’s thoughts. “Our training encourages us to open the bags and look closely at what we are carrying…much of it isn’t needed anymore.”
We’re so used to blaming others for our emotions. The first step to everlasting happiness is to take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. Self-deception is a workable habit of the mind, we only need to decide to change and do the “heavy” lifting.
I was shopping in a clothing store yesterday. I overheard one lady tell another, “Tag these before you put those away.” She said it in a very bossy and unkind way.
The other lady responded in a cheery tone, “Sounds good! I will definitely do that.”
Another command in a cold tone followed: “When you’re done with those, these need to be put away.”
“Got it! I will do it right away. No problem!”
For a second, I wondered if they were joking around. But there was no joviality or levity with the first lady. She was dead serious. The commands continued with the same enthusiastic, positive voice responding. They didn’t share a laugh. It was a genuine conversation with the junior retailer maintaining a positive demeanor.
The cheery saleslady demonstrated true persistence and integrity. Most people react to negativity with more negativity. In remaining unchanged, the lively retailer took responsibility for her own actions and her own feelings. She was unshakably positive. This is what is meant by “non-reaction” (Tolle). This is one of the keys to inner peace.