Sloth Isn’t What You Think

“I’d be more frightened by not using whatever abilities I’d been given. I’d be more frightened by procrastination and laziness.”
– Denzel Washington

This is the third installment of a 7 part series on how we internalize and externalize the concept of the seven deadly sins. Please note that I use the term “sin” as a convenience, not for the literal meaning.

slothSloth is harmless, right? What could be bad about something that shares its name with an adorable animal?

We like to think of sloth as a victimless sin. It doesn’t hurt anyone but us – and it probably doesn’t hurt us that much either.

In truth, we hurt ourselves, the people closest to us and the people we’ve never even met when we are lazy.

You’re Emotionally Abusing Yourself

If you had a friend who continually wouldn’t spend time with you because they wanted to browse Pinterest or watch reality TV, you wouldn’t consider them a very good friend would you? You’d probably be really hurt and angry.

What if you lived with someone who never spoke to you or only talked to you if it was absolutely necessary?

Both of these instances likely would make you feel worthless and they are actually emotional abuse.

This is what we do to ourselves when we give into sloth.

Do you ever feel good when you’ve had a lazy day or a lazy week? I’m not talking about taking a leisurely day off, I’m talking about a day where you know you should be doing things but you choose to avoid them for a variety of reasons.

In the end, laziness feeds the cycle of worthlessness. You feel guilty that you’ve let things slide for so long. As that continues, you feel defeated and that you simply aren’t up to the challenge of your life.

That is what you are telling yourself when you accept sloth as your way of life. You are saying “I’m not up to my potential. My potential isn’t even worth my own attention.”

It’s More Than Sitting On Your Couch

In the book The Glittering VicesRebecca DeYoung notes that:

Busyness and workaholism were not virtuous, but rather sloth’s classic symptoms.”

I know that seems a little weird. How can we be lazy when we are so busy?

It comes down to whether or not you are doing something of value for your life. Are your activities part of living up to your potential or are they a waste of time?

We’ve all heard of the term “busy-work,” which is nothing more than a distraction. We invent tasks that don’t serve any real purpose to avoid doing the ones that increase our quality of life.

This leads to the same cycle mentioned above. Sure, you did things during the day, but you don’t feel accomplished.

You didn’t contribute to your life, you avoided it.

So What Does That Have to Do with Other People?

You have to remember that you are worth something. What you do and what you have to say are worth something. You actions not only affect the people around you, they affect people everywhere. It’s the butterfly effect.

Giving into sloth deprives people of the good that you can bring to them. Just as you deserve to experience your best self, so do others.

Acting on your positive potential benefits everyone.

You need to believe that you not only have the potential, but have the right to live up to it.

Giving into sloth is like slouching toward envy. You not only hate yourself for not accomplishing the things that you should, you begin to resent those who do harness their potential.

You are great. You have a right to your greatness.

If you find yourself giving into sloth, remember this quote from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”



  1. Sloth is the one that gets me the most. Probably why I do so much running, because if I’m out on the trail then at least I’m not on the couch.

%d bloggers like this: