We live in a modern society where information is available constantly. We’re able to instantly access what’s going on in faraway countries and we can immediately see how millions of other people feel about it. This is causing more and more of us to develop mental laziness.
Instead of thinking for ourselves, we’re allowing others to tell us how to think. The more we do this, the worse our thinking abilities become. Like any muscle, if you don’t use it, it gets weaker.
What Is Mental Laziness?
Mental laziness happens when we allow our thoughts to become automatic. Sometimes, this is perfectly fine. For example, once you’ve been a qualified driver for a while, your reactions and movements become automatic. You simply go about your journeys without thinking much of the situation or the decisions you make.
This is preferable in situations where you have to react quickly because your brain is working on instinct. In situations that might require deeper thought or critical thinking, however, mental laziness isn’t such a good thing.
Mental laziness includes avoidance of deep thinking, usually because it’s simply too much effort. Mentally lazy people tend to take what they’re told at face value and don’t apply only of their own ideas or debates.
This is a major cause of the spread of fake news. Instead of reviewing the information for themselves, mentally lazy people share the news without a second thought. Sometimes, people will go as far as to only read the headlines of news stories before sharing, because reading the article would require too much personal thought.
Instead of taking the time to consider the world around them, people who struggle with mental laziness typically make choices based on whims and gut reactions. They take on a “do it first, think about it later” approach.
Mental laziness can manifest in a number of ways. Some people might become risk-takers and rule disobeyers because they don’t care to think about the consequences of their actions or the reasons behind the rules. Other mentally lazy people might just behave in unhelpful and inconvenient ways, such as cleaning up after themselves or watching where they’re going.
Contributing Factors to Mental Laziness
Lack of Goals
A significant factor that contributes to mental laziness is a person’s lack of long and short term goals. Having something to aim for and a sense of ambition drives us to be more conscious. Ambitious people are constantly searching for purpose in what they do and finding connections between their current activities and their hopes for the future. Without these goals, you’ll develop mental laziness because nothing has much meaning to it.
With physical laziness, it is often caused by a fear of trying and failing. Saying that you can’t be bothered is an easy way to mask the anxiety caused by a fear of not succeeding. Mental laziness is similar.
We avoid thinking about things in case we don’t actually understand the concept. We feel embarrassed when it’s revealed that we don’t understand something, and fear that others will think we’re stupid. Instead of challenging ourselves to think about something, even if it’s a tricky subject, we often wait for others to find the answer for us.
When we’re tired, our brains don’t function as well and we may develop mental laziness. We’re zoned-out and unable to focus. This means we tend to run more on automatic thoughts than deep and critical thinking. Plenty of studies, including this one, carried out in Finland, prove that our ability to think is deeply impacted by our sleep schedule.
Similar studies, like this one done in California, show that our diet also has an impact on mental laziness. Junk food affects our attention span, and malnourishment makes thinking straight difficult. We all know the struggle that is trying to concentrate at school or work just before lunch. Our bodies need energy and nourishment to process information and create deep thoughts.
Have you ever met someone who has been so privileged that they have no concept of thinking for themselves? When a person grows up having had everything done for them, they don’t develop their ability to think about their actions. They float through life leaving mess and trouble in their wake, for no evil reason, they’re just mentally lazy.
If you’ve never had to take much responsibility for anything, you’re unlikely to ever be forced to think too much about your actions or what else is going on in the world.
How to Overcome Mental Laziness?
Fortunately, mental laziness is not something you have to be stuck with forever. With a little conscious effort, you can take your brain off autopilot and become a critical thinker.
Mediation is the best way to fight mental laziness. It forces you to be alone with your thoughts. Meditation also teaches us to sort through our minds for valuable information and ditch the nonsense.
If you aren’t much of a thinker, use meditation to bring forward thoughts of importance to you. This could ideas of the future, feelings about world events, or just gratitude for family and friends. Meditation doesn’t always need to be done with an empty mind, especially if you struggle with connecting to your thoughts.
While overthinkers will benefit from quiet meditation, “underthinkers” and those who are mentally lazy will benefit from thoughtful meditation.
Improve Your Wellbeing
Possibly the most straightforward (but not always easiest) place to start is with your sleep pattern and diet. Try to get into a healthy night-time routine that will provide you with those blissful 9 hours of sleep. Too little sleep makes thinking difficult, but too much could also encourage mental laziness too.
Changing your diet can be challenging but will be noticeably beneficial to your brain. A generally healthy diet will be a significant improvement on one which consists mostly of junk foods as your body will have more nutrients and sustainable energy. Specific foods like fish, nuts and even dark chocolate will provide particular vitamins and minerals which are known to improve cognitive functioning.
Take One Task at A Time
Multi-tasking might seem like a great thing to be able to do, but when you fill your brain with several tasks at once, each one gets less attention. Our brains typically can’t handle multiple deep-thinking jobs at the same time, so we become mentally lazy and apply minimal thought to each one.
If you’re looking to rid yourself of mental laziness, make sure you always separate your tasks. When you’re taking on a project, you can devote more thought to it this way. No more autopilot, only intentional actions.
Set Some Goals
If you’re looking to gather up some motivation in your life, you can’t go wrong with setting goals. If you’re mentally lazy, you probably just stroll through life without much thought for your next move or the motivation behind your actions. When you have goals, both long and short term, you’ll be much more likely to have deep, critical thoughts in order to guide you to those goals.
Some of us hate to be alone with our thoughts. We’ll do anything just to avoid having to hear our brain chatter, especially those of us who suffer from anxiety and negative thinking. This is a type of mental laziness because we’d rather distract ourselves with nonsense than let ourselves think. Instead of running away, let the thoughts in. The only way you’ll solve the underlying cause is by thinking yourself through them.
Mental laziness is an easy trap to fall into these days, but fortunately, it’s not impossible to get back out of. Believe in your ability to create intelligent thoughts. Question the things you see, trust yourself to form your own, valid opinions.
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