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Laziness is a Virtue

Updated on February 15, 2013
If this polar bear can afford to be lazy, then certainly you can. . .
If this polar bear can afford to be lazy, then certainly you can. . .

Laziness is Synonymous With Efficiency

It's difficult to imagine laziness could possibly be a virtue. Since we were a small child, we've been programmed that hard work is the method of choice. The Protestant work ethic would have us believe that the key to getting ahead follows this certain blueprint:

  • Stay in school and get good grades,
  • Do what you're told to impress people of authority
  • Graduate college
  • Get a job and demand nothing
  • Pay your dues by working extra shifts/overtime, and pray that it later on pays off
  • Slowly but surely get promoted to make more money
  • Buy an overpriced condo and work your way up the property ladder by gaining "equity," so later on you can buy a bigger house
  • Get a graduate degree
  • Then finally marry your little princess or prince charming who makes around the same income as you, along with the same education level, have babies, and live happily ever after. . .
  • Have a luxury retirement

How many people do you know following this path to their own destruction? More than I can count. The Protestant work ethic has brought much suffering to the individual. It's like a crack addiction that's difficult to escape. Every time we try to stray away from it, mostly out of necessity because it's not working, someone always pressures us to be sucked right back into it. Whether the well meaning, but ultimately faulty advice, comes from a family member, a friend, a lover, a teacher, etc, the results are often the same. The repetitive process of banging one's head against the wall.

What if I told you there was another way? What if I told you it may be possible to make it all stop?! I'm reminiscent of a time when I was a young child and visited the doctor. I developed a nasty rash that was growing on the side of my neck. Needless to say, my mother was concerned. To put it bluntly, the rash was completely disgusting. I told the doctor my tale. I explained how the rash is itchy and red whenever I scratch it. I then went on to explain how the rash is getting worse by the day. I'll never forget her words of wisdom, "then maybe you should stop scratching it, and in time it will go away?" Truer words have never been spoken. If you want to break loose of the toxic Protestant work ethic, then many times the solution is to simply stop working. Allow yourself to have the freedom to be lazy, just once in your life. With practice, new insight, and a renewed perspective, hopefully you'll come to understand laziness as a useful tool rather than a curse. I admit it's not easy, you're currently reading the works of a "recovering Protestant worker," and I still have a long journey ahead of me if I wish to detoxicate myself from this illness.

What you'll eventually discover is that laziness is synonymous with efficiency. Laziness is an instinct necessary for human survival. Think about it, lazy people try to find methods, systems, and strategies to get the most work done with the least effort. That's the definition of efficiency right there. The more you accept laziness as a virtue, the more you can work towards freeing up your time. Ironically enough, in the end, you end up getting more work done. When you're talented at utilizing your laziness, you have so much free time on your hands, that you're always looking for more and more activities to do. For example, I now have time to write this Hub all because I made use of my laziness. Hopefully, this Hub will earn me some small points in the command of the English language and insight, increasing my skill sets. I'm getting ahead because I chose to be lazy and efficient.

Protestant work ethic: Illogical and inefficient.
Protestant work ethic: Illogical and inefficient.
The logic behind laziness in a simple illustration.
The logic behind laziness in a simple illustration.

Laziness isn't an Easy Path to Take: Confessions of an Addicted Protestant Worker

So you've decided you're willing to give being lazy a try. You tell yourself tomorrow you'll just sit on the couch, after all, how hard can it be? A lot harder than you think. . . The path of laziness isn't an easy one to take by any means. We're addicted to the Protestant work ethic. We're so addicted, that much like a crack addict, we fool ourselves that we're no longer addicted.

Case in point, when I was younger in my early 20's, I told myself I would never "work for the man" ever again. I viewed the Protestant work ethic with scorn. I called jobs "just over broke," and swore I would have nothing to do with jobs ever again. I was going to work for myself and do whatever I wanted, when I wanted. In the end, my plan ultimately failed, but it wasn't because I was lazy and spoiled, it's because I wasn't completely detoxicated from the Protestant work ethic. The Protestant work ethic, ingrained into my skull thanks to the upbringing from my parents, merely took on a different form.

Here is the tale of two entrepreneurs. One who wanted to change the world by actually contributing something innovative and productive. The other, just bought a franchise coffee shop. One became rich and successful. The other became a loser. Want to take a guess which is which? The one who wanted to create something productive was me. The one who bought the coffee shop was my friend. My friend became rich, I ended up being poor.

Ingrained into me were concepts such as Fordism. I genuinely believed that the key to successful entrepreneurship was to contribute something valuable to society. I couldn't be more wrong. I took a difficult and hard working path of trying to bring manufacturing back to North America through innovative concepts outside of the book. In the end, I failed. My friend on the other hand bought what was at the time a cheap Tim Hortons franchise in a rural area. It was easy money, Canadians are addicted to that crap. He didn't even have to come up with a business plan, didn't have to innovate anything, and hasn't contributed a useful dime to the betterment of society. In fact, he's contributing to our declining health as a human species. In no more than three years, he already had a full return on investment. In five years, he made so much money, that he hired everyone else to do the work for him. Today, he's living off a legion of minimum wage workers and outsourced logistic professionals in India. He makes $300,000 a year just by vacationing from place to place and doing no work at all. He's now 29 years old, and goes driving around in a Ferrari picking up beautiful blonde bombshells. I'm still friends with him by the way, and his work ethic is often the butt end of many jokes.

You see, where I went wrong was the Protestant work ethic didn't escape me. I'm still trying to wane it away. A part of me still feels it's a crime to make a lot of money with little or no effort. I can't bring myself to be lazy, it's difficult to break the workaholic habit. When I worked for myself, I was obsessed with being some sort of hero, inventing the next big thing. I didn't chase the easy money and I scorned the "easy to do" service industry. I was obsessed with being productive and it nearly led to my demise.

The reason why we hear so much about people like Henry Ford is because they're exception rather than rule. Most people don't get rich by working hard, or even by working smart, and very few of us have the capacity to invent or produce anything. Most people get rich by coming up with systems that suit their desire for laziness, and finding suckers who believe in the Protestant work ethic to play along. To be lazy is to desire coming up with systems to replace your labour, and with that comes efficiency. And as it turns out more often than not, upon further research, many of our heroes are not as lovely as they seem. Henry Ford made a quick buck by selling both sides during WWII. He built the trains and automobiles used by the Nazis to transport people to concentration camps, knowing full well that was their purpose. I actually knew this all along for the longest time, but I was caught in a spiral of denial as I continued to hack away trying to make my metal alloys fuelled by beeswax.

And last but not least, let's have a look at Bill Gates. He's without a doubt the best case of laziness leading to virtue. His software is filled with more bugs than a bee hive, obviously it's lazily programmed and year after year we're subjugated to more and more copy and paste jobs that we feel compelled to buy for compatibility reasons.

I'm still trying to relieve myself from my Protestant work ethic. I still find it unethical to outsource jobs to the 3rd world and make a quick buck off slave labour, while I sit back and enjoy the sun. Heavens help me, please, make these thoughts stop! I often have to repeat in my head, "just take the easy money and run, just take the easy money and run!" Perhaps I need to make a "Protestant work ethics anonymous" group where we can all confess our sins to the Protestant work ethic and free ourselves from our bondage! Of course, in the spirit of this Hub I would have to charge you all two dollars . . . Ugh, make that five dollars to attend. The fact of the matter is that hard work is for losers. To be lazy is to be efficient.

-Donovan D. Westhaver


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    • gpeloponnakos profile image


      6 years ago

      good points and well written article.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      with laziness, you also get heart disease for sitting on the couch and getting fat.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Good hub. To each his/her own. The secret to success is working smart, not hard. Anyone can work hard. You can work hard and still be poor and not succeed. However, if you work smart, you strategize and know how to implement the steps and methodology necessary for success. Working hard is such an antediluvian concept while working smart is a more intelligent concept.

    • Ruchira profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      Loved the message you are trying to convey...a ray of sunshine in this 8am-8pm work life....LOL

      Voted up!

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Very good. You're looking at things from a different perspective.

      You are looking at making money here. The stoic member of the society who does the nine to five job, never complaining, working hard and all, will generally not become extremely wealthy.

      Those with unorthodox methods of doing business, those taking risks, thinking a step-ahead, cutting corners and so on ... those are the big fish in the tank.

      If you work yourself like a horse though, you will never give yourself the time to think and be creative. Taking time-out, once in a while is important. That's just my opinion.


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