A friend on Facebook posted a great question about the difference between “doing nothing” and “being lazy.” I commented directly to his post, but wanted to share it here too. I know this is something I’ve struggled with A LOT, and still do if I’m honest with myself. This is as much a helpful reminder for myself as much as it’s for anyone else. 😉

We often teach what we most need to learn, right? 🙂

Here’s how I see it:

Our culture is addicted to being stressed, overworked, and overwhelmed. So much so that we value ourselves when we’re “busy” and feel guilty or worthless when we’re doing nothing. The term “lazy” has a very negative connotation. It’s assumed to be “bad” to be lazy.

Doing nothing, as I define it, is a period of rest, stillness, and inactivity.

ALL of nature has these periods of rest and inactivity.

Kyle Cease (a stand-up comic that talks about personal growth) uses an “apple tree” metaphor. We’re the tree. Our job is to make and share our apples — whatever that “apple” may be. It could be a creative talent, product you make, service you provide, etc. It’s your gift you have to give to the world.

So imagine that you are an apple tree. Your “work” is producing apples. There’s a LOT of rapid growth and activity in the spring. Steady continuous progress in the summer. Then a slowing down and releasing in the fall. And zero activity and total rest in the winter.

Which season are you in in your life right now? And you can be in different seasons in different areas. Your relationship might be in springtime, your health/body in summer, and maybe your career has entered autumn.

Only you know where you’re at in each area. Your heart is the only one who can honestly tell you. Listen to that.

If you’re in winter, you NEED to rest and be inactive. Any efforts otherwise will be very difficult and produce little or no results. It’s just not the right season for you to be making apples. That’s okay. Rest and be still now. Spring is coming and when it feels NATURAL to start producing and being active again, you’ll know. You’ll feel it.

Being lazy is when it’s springtime and you want apples without having to grow them first. Being lazy is when it’s springtime and you have some belief that even though you’re an apple tree, it’s everyone else’s job to make apples for you. Being lazy is DENYING your true nature.

“Being lazy” in a fall or winter season, however, is actually just “resting or waiting”…but our culture’s attitude and addiction to CONSTANT work assumes everyone should be in either spring or summer ALL THE TIME.

I heard a saying. “In Europe, people work to live. In America, people live to work.”

To me, real “laziness” includes some sense of entitlement. For example, you KNOW it’s your springtime, you know what you want to do/create/provide/how you want to serve, and you feel the energy for it… But INSTEAD you decide that everyone else should do their part and you’ll benefit from their work, while you behave like it’s autumn or winter. It’s a belief that others “should” work but you don’t have to, ever. Whether it’s spring or not.

Doing nothing, on the other hand, is simply a time when you’re NOT working; but you DO your work and do contribute at other times, whenever your spring and summer seasons may happen to be for you.

So maybe a simple question is this: “Do I ever work? Am I ever busy?” If the answer is yes, then I believe you’re simply in a rest period now. But if you’re always mooching off others, playing and sleeping and eating forever, without ever creating or contributing your own apples, then you’re being lazy.

Side note, whether others “pay” you for your apples or not is irrelevant. If you’re making apples and others “consume” or benefit from them SOMEHOW, you’re doing your job and contributing to society.

Not everything has to have a price tag to be valuable.