Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Slobs and go-getters

Are we naturally lazy or naturally hard-working? Are human beings designed to slob around all day doing nothing useful or to get stuck into something and enjoy a sense of achievement?

Some people are happy to live lives of total indolence, slumped on the settee with a six-pack watching crap movies, while others are working all hours running a business or cleaning their homes from top to bottom.

So who's normal and who's peculiar? Or is it just individual temperament? Or the way we've been brought up?

It's partly what we see as important, and what makes us feel secure and comfortable. If the sight of dust and grime and sagging curtains makes us feel ashamed or inadequate, we'll rush around hoovering and wiping and repairing. If an office intray full of weeks-old memos makes us feel pathetic or disorganised, we'll spring into life and deal with them.

If such feelings never bother you, you can sprawl around all day in a state of untroubled serenity.

Status sneaks in as well. Someone who's acutely status-conscious, obsessed with how their life compares with neighbours or workmates, will be frantically plotting to earn more, have a flashier home or be more glamorously dressed. So they'll put in the hard graft to get what they lack and keep up with the Joneses.

Those who're indifferent to status even if their home is a crumbling tip next to a spotless mansion, won't lift a finger.

And don't forget ambition. Some people simply want to be the best at something, to set themselves high standards, while others muddle along doing the minimum they can get away with.

I have to admit my own fits of hard work are due more to a guilty conscience than any natural urge for strenuous labour. I've never been hung-up on status. And I've never been ambitious. Listening to Lissie Maurus in a pleasant alcoholic haze will do me fine.


  1. I used to chase the dust, but nowadays I have learned to live with it. Life is more enjoyable and the world didn't end!

  2. If there's a choice between dust and the sofa...sofa always wins.

    I do like my house to be tidy, but we live in a home. When I get a burning desire to clean up, then we do and then get on with the important stuff: hanging out, reading, killing things on the xbox.

    And my natural state: bone idle.

  3. Can I be both a
    slob - I'll clean that later go getter - gotta go out and DO something worth doing?

  4. Grannymar - You can never get rid of all the dust, it breeds as fast as you remove it!

    Roses - Well, there's an honest response, no pretending to be diligent. But if housework gets more important than having a good time, something's gone badly amiss.

    Wendy - I guess we're all a bit of a mixture of the two. Once I get keen on something, I'll apply myself like a maniac.

  5. Megan - Is that because you dislike the sight of dust, because you're embarrassed by it, or because your mum was also a compulsive duster?

  6. In the Indian philosophical system, humans are classified under three characteristics, based on their inborn nature. Satvic, the reflective type, Rajasic, the active type and Tamasic, the indolent type. All three are present in all of us but the degree to which one predominates forms the basis of the classification. For instance, Brahmins were originally classified as Satvic, Kshatriyas, the warrior class as Rajasic. Human frailty shows up when a proper balance of the innate natures is not achieved.

    Have I confused you enough?

  7. All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.
    ~ Arabian Proverb

  8. Ramana - I guess that's true that we all have a mix of the different tendencies. I like to think mine are quite well balanced, but others might not agree!

    I like the Arabian proverb. Very astute.

  9. Stay in bed. Avoid radio, television, newspapers. Keep work and social interaction to a minimum.

    Most crucially, stay in bed.

  10. newjenny - You'd have to be ruthlessly reclusive to avoid all those things. Social contact and news headlines are thrust at us from all directions. Even when we're in bed, unless we've turned off the mobile and the radio.

  11. I like Rummuser's Arabian proverb too

  12. Myra - Good, isn't it? Of course it's often the ones that move you have to watch most carefully. They can move in strange directions.

  13. I have little urge for strenuous labor just for the sake of working hard and I'm rarely motivated by shame or inadequacy. BUT, I do enjoy the work of things that I find aesthetically pleasing. And so I will paint or garden or cook, for instance. I desire to be a competent therapist and a decent mother, but there is nothing in me that pushes me to really excel. I am all about good-enough effort.

  14. Secret Agent - I agree about putting in the work for something that's aesthetically pleasing, that brings some visible and tangible pleasure. And good-enough effort also. I won't be hoovering the ceiling any time soon.