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January 6th, 2017 by Jordan Yassine
By Jordan Yassine
Laziness is something that we all struggle against daily. As the old adage goes, “You are your own worst enemy.” Society has taught us that we have only ourselves to blame. It’s our fault that we’ve let the dishes pile up, use the elevator instead of the stairs, or choose fast food over making a healthy meal. There’s something inside that keeps us from doing the right thing. And we need to overcome it. If this sounds like you, you’re actually not at fault. According to behavioral science, your laziness is a result of those around you: Society is to blame.
To get a better understanding, there are two ideas that we need to grasp. The first is that every behavior has an incentive. Whether we’re talking to a friend, driving to the store, or brushing our teeth, there’s always something to be gained. The greater the gains from our behaviors, the more likely we are to do them. At the same time, behavior requires effort. This is the second idea. The more effort it takes to do something, the less likely we are to do it. Numerous studies in the Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior have looked at how effort and incentives interact. It’s human nature to choose behaviors with the least effort and highest rewards.
This is what laziness is all about. We take the “lazy way out” because it’s less demanding. For example, you chose fast food over making a healthy lunch because of convenience. You worked less, and had a tastier meal. To become ‘unlazy’, you would have to change the situation. Meaning, the “lazy way out” should be less convenient.
So in changing your eating habits, you’ve decided to stop carrying cash. Now you have to visit a bank before you can buy fast food. This makes it less convenient. Also, you’ve decided to spice up your healthy lunch. Suddenly, eating healthy has become more rewarding. You’ve changed the situation.
Unfortunately, society is our worst enemy when it comes to laziness. With all of today’s advancements, being lazy is becoming easier every day. Our world is gradually becoming more convenient. With a click of a button we can now do things that once required preplanning. So we’re facing an uphill battle. However, all this means is we need to become more creative. It’s a matter of reversing that lazy situation. Making ‘convenient’ into ‘inconvenient’ for you.