Laziness and Demotivation

I don't feel motivated today which is bad because I have lots of important stuff to do - well, I'll just play video games until I'm motivated enough to do some real work
In this day and age when many people are drugged up and lying to themselves just to have the appearance of happiness, idleness seems to have become some kind of a sin. You're always expected to be up being sociable, going out, and slaving away for five days a week to make some rich fuck even richer.

Now, for some reason you're supposed to be happy that you took that worthless degree to eke out four decades working at various insurance companies instead of getting a degree in physics or spending the best part of your life researching the influence of Ovid on medieval French literature or something, anything else that would actually make you happy and fulfilled because people convinced you that there wasn't enough money in it. Of course, they forgot to mention that spending four decades making money at a job you hate drives you insane, but hey, capitalism!

Pair of blue jeans with a badge saying "I'M LAZY"
Anyway, I'm getting off-topic and talking far too much about my not-so-veiled fear of actually contributing to society instead of leeching off people, but the point is this: idleness is frowned upon. If you're not getting out of bed in the morning, if you have trouble motivating yourself, people assume that it's an obvious failing in you and a choice you willingly and deliberately make. In other words, they don't draw a line between laziness and demotivation, something I've had to correct people about in public.

Black keyboard with a white card reading "no motivation" on it in red text
You might be wondering why I actually care that much; you might tell me to go get a life, or go get a job because I'm too square, boring and ugly to look pretty while destroying my liver so I might as well work for Saga Insurance and destroy my mind. You might actually think I've made up the term "demotivation" so I can swan around being a special snowflake and pretend that I have a good reason for being lazy instead of getting off my arse and trying not to be such a worthless shit.

The thing is, I didn't actually make it up. I have to live with it every day, and so I can tell you the difference between laziness and demotivation in far more detail than is necessary or tasteful.

chibird: little cartoon yellow bird with pink cheeks sitting down and saying "I'm lazy and I know it".
Laziness is normal. Laziness is - dare I say it - almost a choice. Laziness is when I say "I have a shitton of work to do, but I don't really want to do it so I might as well curl up in the sun doing something I actually enjoy and maybe get myself some jelly and ice cream later". This is common and perfectly okay and everyone does it - yes, even you, hyper-efficient super-organised ultra-motivated ball of energy. It's a very natural response to working too hard and there's nothing wrong with it, as long as you don't let it consume you. Plus, laziness is something you can shake off with relative ease.

Demotivation is quite a different beast. Demotivation is normal and natural, but is also a sign of something more serious, including certain medical conditions, and can be quite seriously worrying. Demotivation is when I say "I want to do this shitton of work - no, I need to do this shitton of work - okay, why can't I find the energy to move"? When I get demotivated, it feels like my entire body has turned to stone because it takes that much energy to even twitch my leg or turn over or speak, let alone sit down and revise for the exams that have made my anxiety about one hundred times worse in the last five or six months. It's a sign of underlying problems, not personal weakness, and something that can be very hard to pull yourself out of because, particularly if it's a sign of other problems like depression or anxiety, it kills your willingness to look after yourself and thus motivate yourself once more.

And it's physiological.

"Summer is when laziness finds respectability" - Sam Keen
Yes, I said the completely unintuitive thing. I don't want to oversimplify things and say that laziness is mental while demotivation is physical - besides, the influences of brain and body on each other are huge and intertwined and making any kind of distinction is messy. But demotivation has a very large physiological component.

You might ask how that could come about. Surely demotivation and laziness are just an attitude and if you think positively you'll turn into the Duracell Bunny?

Quite apart from the difficulties of thinking positively when you're having a panic attack or you think everything is irredeemably shit and suicide looks oddly peaceful, no. What happens to the body can have an effect on the way you think - and in demotivation's case it's because of being overly stressed.

Yes. I said it. Too much stress will render you unable to move, and here's why.

Stress has a lot of different causes - anything from working too hard to being burnt out to chemical imbalances in the brain caused by certain mental illnesses. All of that will put the body under stress and flood it with hormones.

But what happens after that? It's not like they just stay there; instead, you get a massive hormone dump that completely robs you of energy and makes you feel crap.

You know, like a lack of motivation.

So the next time you want to say that people who aren't motivated are just lazy, stop and think for a moment about the difference between the two.

It certainly saves me writing yet another strongly-worded letter.