Our culture, and really the culture of the current technological age breeds inactivity. The cost of inactivity in both our physical bodies and mental state can seriously impact both our money and our lives. While we may first envision the rather round and slovenly stereotypical person lounging in a recliner watching sports; there are many more ways this can manifest in our lives.
Let me first state, that we will all be caught in this snare of inactivity at some point in our lives. Unless you are of course a super hero or Greek God, you are not immune. Notice, however, that I did not state you will become victim of inactivity- because it is not a “world against us” or “poor us” problem- instead it is an issue of fortitude. Inactivity is something you walk, run or hurl yourself right into. In fact, we can work pretty darn hard at inactivity. Sounds like an Oxymoron right? A fallacy? A load of malarky? Nope. Here is why.
Our Brain and Resistance
Our brain will engage in avoiding activity for a variety of reasons. Mainly those that we allow ourselves to be a part of. Our brain has evolved in many ways- but in one way it is the same- avoiding the “hard work”or “difficult” tasks is actually ingrained. Why? As a species many many years ago that “hard” or “overwhelming” task translated to something that can end our lives like a sabor-tooth tiger. So our brains decide to fight or flight. That flight experience is what we know today as procrastination or avoiding the task by telling ourselves how busy we are.
The hardest part for your brain to do is start.
In a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield he introduces this idea of resistance. Resistance is the thing that stops you from doing. It comes in the form of fear or distraction- absolutely anything to keep you from doing the work. Pressfield describes resistance like this: “Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
Resistance is always lying and full of shit- Steven Pressfield
That is how you know you are doing the hard work. Is it scary or slightly challenging to start? Do you feel a pressing need to do it and an equally pressing need for it to be good? Being highly critical is the brains second crippling form of resistance- often stopping one from sharing. This sharing part was my personal struggle as I wrote about in The Unknown Creative .
To Be Alive is to Move and to Do
Do you know the worst insult one could hurl at me? Lazy. Call me lazy and I will most likely consider blocking your number after telling you the 20 million reasons I am not lazy. For me, being called lazy meant I was a sloth, a bump on a log, a fatty, a good for nothing human and we all know that idle hands are the devils hands. Wow- may be your current reaction, but this is truly a serious trigger word for me.
This is probably wrapped up in my perception of myself etc- which we will not get into here- but I do ask you. Does being called or described as lazy cause a hot fire to burn in your soul? Do you feel inactive or feed into the resistance around you?
I believe in balance and self love. Both of these are things we are aware of, both the resistance and the inaction. I also believe that inactivity as a habit, as a repeated pattern, literally means we are dying. To be alive is to move and do. Repeat that after me: To be alive is to move and to do.
To be alive is to move and to do.
Two Main Camps
It seems to me that inactivity in the 21st century has been divided into two main camps- like most things in our current country- instead of a spectrum or balance we have decided to operate on binary systems of thought. Some individuals exercise regularly, while others never do. Some believe that the only way we have been productive or created anything new has been thanks to lazy individuals finding ways to get out of the work. Even still, some have decided that doing something does nothing, thus doing nothing is the answer.
Our infatuation is with technology and time we can save in this era. How to save time and count our dollars and count our days occupies a significant portion of brain power each week. We have even written about it and applied Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Work Week productive habits. Yet, what are we going to do with all of this time we have saved? Will we travel and learn about new cultures? Will we play a video game? Will we actually sit down and do the work?
As an artist, I feel lucky to not expect immediate results or even expect much of anything for creation. I sit down and do the work, because I have always done the work. Because I am driven to create and to fill my time with such things like photography, writing or drawing. I am not in any way tooting my horn, as I have fallen into inactivity before and it looks much like a depressive state for me. Creating keeps me alive. Again: To move and do is to be alive.
The Cost to our Souls is also Present in our Wallets
The cost is to our wallets just as much as it is to our souls. Quality of life is a major part of inactivity. What are we doing in our off hours sets a trend for our brains. When we decide not to do, we feed into resistance. When we do not move we allow our bodies to becomes stagnant and swampy. This applies to every aspect of our lives: including money.
This is also not a new or radical idea. In 1920 John Candee Dean wrote in the Indianapolis Star “Do not waste your time at the ‘movies,’ at the theater or in the street. If you will employ all your spare time well, you can not only become financially independent, but also a man of education.” While leisure time, or a time to care for yourself is essential, so is breaking the barrier on the idea that coming home from work and binge watching Netflix for 5 hours is a good idea.
We can all agree that physical inactivity leads to chronic diseases and those can get expensive. If you disagree, check out this study regarding the economic burden of our physically inactive society. Medical bills due to physical inactivity are a serious problem. If you do exercise at least 30 min. a day you are in the clear as it saves you approximately $2500 a year. If you want to know more about the value of exercise check out what The New York Times has to say about it.
Mental inactivity is much less explored in regards to it’s economic ties. Not a surprise hear, as we tend to encourage individuals to spend their time and money numbing their minds rather than using it productively or creatively. It is documented very well that small amounts of leisure time and vacations are beneficial to the brain- yet very little connects the money to the mind in studies. This is baffling. The two must be linked.
So what about you? Are you in one of the two camps? Are you currently feeding into resistance and fear? Do you balance it all well? How is mental inactivity costing you?
These are all questions I want to know the answers to on both the individual and societal level.
i see sloth when i see the general public incessantly buried in a dumb-phone. have you read “the courage to create” by rollo may? it’s only 140 pages and might relate to what you’re saying here.