Preparing to embark on a week of holiday leisure, I inventoried my reading material and came across the book I’ve been waiting for my whole life. It’s called The Joy of Laziness. The early bird may get the worm, but late sleepers live longer, according to this wonderful book by German Scientists Peter Axt and Michaela Axt-Gadermann.
You hear that, mom–and every single boss who has dared to give me the stink eye when I stumbled in a few minutes late because I needed that triple latte more than I needed to be on time–late sleepers live longer!
According to The Joy of Laziness, everybody has a limited amount of life energy at his or her disposal. The speed with which this energy is consumed determines your life span. Every day we encounter countless demands on our energy, such as stress, hurry, frustration, cold, sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and an inappropriate fitness regimen. A lifestyle that uses a lot of energy accelerates the aging process, makes you more susceptible to illness, and can even shorten your life.
In other words, laziness rocks! And I’m not the only one who thinks so. I’ve got German scientists behind me on this.
My theory is that the only reason we don’t embrace our laziness more openly–and less guiltily–is those darn pilgrims. All that nonsense about every hour needing to be spent productively and idle hands being the devil’s workshop is just that: nonsense.
Most men I know already embrace the laziness rocks theory. They don’t even notice the dust bunnies hopping off the sofa as they plop themselves on to it. And it would never occur to them to wash the dishes immediately after a meal, or fold clothes as soon as they come out of the laundry. They may be on to something there.
The women I know, on the other hand, have an almost impossible time relaxing just for the heck of it. They join book clubs, so they’ll have some justification to read for pleasure, and get dogs, so they’ll have an excuse to walk on the beach.
My friend Suzanne, who is a stay at home mom, says that she feels guilty for playing with her kids unless her house is perfectly spotless.
“You’re a stay at home MOM, not a stay at home MAID,” I reminded her. Her perfectly clean house always leaves me with a sense of wonder. That is, I wonder how much happier she would be if she stopped cleaning and took the time to read People Magazine, watch Grey’s Anatomy and play computer games like I do.
Nonessential household duties have no hold on me. I hate to do things like wash dishes and make beds when I know that the next day there’ll just be more dirty dishes and more unmade beds. Doing the same housework over and over again makes me feel like a hamster on a wheel to nowhere. Look, it’s a sink full of dishes. Look, it’s a sink full of dishes again! Ooh, look, the dishes are here again!
Sure it’s wonderful to have a clean house and a home cooked meal, but I would much rather write a few more stories and pay someone else to provide those things for me. Especially since the domestic arts are not exactly where my talents lie.
I’ll confess, the worst grade I ever got in high school, I kid you not, was in home economics.
Admitting I’m not a domestic goddess takes a lot of the pressure off, especially this time of the year. One of the great advantages of not cooking–or not cooking well–is you get to be the one who brings wine and cheese and crackers to Thanksgiving dinner.
In addition to not having to ruin my makeup while slaving over a hot stove, there are actually intellectual advantages to idleness. According to the book How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson, Einstein launched his theory of relativity by wondering what it would be like to ride on a sunbeam; Newton discovered gravity while sitting in an orchard; and the Harry Potter character popped into J.K. Rowling’s mind as she was gazing out a train window.
I’ll be counting my blessings that a few more people have figured out that laziness rocks, and also makes you healthier, smarter and more creative. And by the way, have you read the latest positive news about dark chocolate and red wine? We’ve got a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving–except for those stupid Pilgrims.
Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound.