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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community

Thursday, September 23, 2010
How Being a Laid-Back Type Z Can Make You Happy, Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise

We live in a workaholic, type A culture that highly values being busy and working hard. Most people think that’s the only route to success: work, work, work.

But I had a problem with that, because I’m basically lazy. I’ve never been a “morning person.” I’m laid-back, unorganized (my desk is a mess), and forgetful (don’t expect me to remember your name!) — and yet I’ve become highly successful, by my own standards and by almost everyone else’s standards as well.

Most people in our culture don’t think it’s even possible to be successful and laid-back — much less lazy! Most people think that being lazy is a bad thing. It’s associated with all kinds of other bad things, such as not paying attention, not being motivated, not being focused on a goal. Laziness is the route to poverty and frustration. An idle mind is the devil’s playground, after all. You’ve got to work really hard to succeed. The early bird gets the worm.

Yeah, but the late bird might get a whole discarded Happy Meal!

I’ve found that you can be laid-back, even lazy,
and still be persistent.
You can still be focused on a dream or goal
and keep moving toward that dream or goal.

For years I doubted that was true. I thought I needed to work harder to create any kind of success. High energy is a virtue, after all; laziness a vice. My job, and my life, were very stressful, but that was part of it, wasn’t it? Stress is part of working hard, isn’t it? Stress is part of being alive and functioning in this world.

Then, sometime in my thirties, I discovered something: In the long run, it’s far better to be relaxed than stressed. It’s better for your health, and you do much better work. (That’s what we really admire in great artists, isn’t it? They create in such an easy and effortless way.) In the long run, you can have much greater fulfillment and even much greater success in the world if you’re a type Z more often than a type A.

A type Z is the polar opposite of a type A. The Taoists have it exactly right: all the world is a play of opposites, of yin and yang, night and day, male and female, activity and stillness.

Type A behavior is active. Now, it’s excellent to learn to be active and skillful and effective, but we shouldn’t spend all our time in that half of the polarity. So many people seem to fear the opposite of active. They’re afraid to have time on their hands with nothing to do.

Yet the opposite of activity, of type A focus and drive, is not stagnation or death; it’s stillness — wonderful, relaxing, rejuvenating stillness. And when you’re still for a while, the energy for all kinds of activity naturally arises, but it doesn’t have to be a driven kind of activity. It’s type Z activity:

  • — Laid-back
  • — Relaxed
  • — Easygoing, going with the flow
  • — Enjoying life
  • — In the moment
  • — Sleeping a lot

Most people don’t equate these things with success, yet they actually contribute to true success in life, don’t they?

My dream has always been to have a life of ease. Not to work too hard (30 hours a week is stretching it for me). To spend a lot of time just idly wandering around my home and yard, with nothing to do for the rest of the day. That’s my ideal scene.

I’ve managed to create it, and if it’s part of your dream, your ideal scene, then you can too. If you enjoy being a type A, great! Just be sure to find plenty of time in your busy schedule for relaxation and rejuvenation. But if you’re like me, I’m here to tell you, as loud and clear as I can:

You can be laid-back, even lazy, and still be successful.
It’s not that hard to do.
Just make clear goals, keep focused on them,
and keep moving toward them,
in your own laid-back, lazy way.

My life and my work consist of an ongoing discussion of exactly how to succeed in the world, doing what you love to do, and yet still be relaxed, laid-back, even lazy at times. I know it’s possible. I’ve proven it. So have many others. It’s all a matter of dealing with your deep beliefs. Henry Ford summed it up brilliantly:

If you believe you can, or if you believe you can’t,
you’re right.

Be well, be in peace,

Marc Allen


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