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Can You Make Yourself Less Lazy? - Dilbert Blog

Can You Make Yourself Less Lazy?

I have seven personalities before lunch. The tired version of me is nothing like the well-rested me. The well-fed version of me barely recognizes the hungry me. Sometimes I feel aggressive, sometimes vulnerable, and so on.

And by different personalities I mean I have a different set of preferences and I make different decisions in each state. So if I have all of these different states with different preferences, who am I?

Am I some sort of ridiculous average of apples, oranges, and chainsaws? That makes no sense.

Am I seven different people in one body? Well, sort of, but the laws of society will never accept that. You can’t beat a murder rap by saying you were hungry when it happened. “Officer, that was a different guy. He was hungry.”

I am sure you have the same multiple-personality situation. So I’m wondering how you wrangle all of your ever-shifting personalities. I’ll tell you my method to compare.

I have what I call my executive control center in my brain. That’s the tiny, rational part of my mind that creates a continuous conversation in my head, with actual words. That part of my brain tries to be the boss of my irrational mental processes, and that isn’t easy.

The best example of this interplay is when I feel too lazy to do something that needs to be done. The executive control part of my brain wants to get going but the more powerful irrational side of my mind wants me to stay put. You know the feeling. How does one break the laziness stalemate?

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My method involves imagining the executive control part of my mind giving direct orders to my arms and legs. I literally watch my arm rise on command of my executive control. I know from experience that once my body is moving I will feel less lazy, so all I need to do is stand up. Curiosity is a powerful motivator, and my executive control  wonders whether I can command my arm to move while I feel so lazy. So I give my arm a direct command and watch what happens. It moves! And that’s usually enough to transfer control of my actions back to the rational part of my brain, at least temporarily. 

The next time you find yourself overeating, and your executive control center knows you should stop, try giving a direct order to your fork-lifting arm. Literally look at your hand and tell it to put the fork down.

Your first reaction might be that you already do that. But I’ll bet your decision to stop eating also has lots of irrational elements too. Your irrational side is whispering “just one more bite” and “I will go for a longer run tomorrow.” If your executive control gets into a debate with your irrational side, it often loses. So instead, focus your attention and energy on your eating hand. Give it a direct order to put down the fork and then watch as it does. That hack will quiet the irrational voices in your head and return control to your rational side.

How do you thwart laziness when you are in its grip. What mental process do you activate to get you moving? Fear? Anxiety? Guilt? Those are corrosive emotions.

Maybe you could try curiosity instead. Curiosity is a powerful and positive motivator. Next time you have trouble getting going, just look at your arm and tell it to do something. 

Will this method work as well as I say? I’ll bet you are curious to find out.

Let me know if it works for you.

Scott Adams

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