Sloth: One of the deadly sins

While writing on this topic first thing that comes to my mind is the lyrics

And burn

You will burn

You will burn in hell

yeah You’ll burn in hell

You’ll burn in hell

Yeah you’ll burn in hell for your sins

from this song “Take a Bow” by Muse. It is uplifting music, one of the songs to start off with your day.

I am not a very religious person but I do like to consume knowledge in any form. Whichever the origin of a book; it has something to offer. Any school of thought is basically a generalization of some one’s observations (whether or not done with scientific method) thus it holds true for that narrow set of phenomenon observed by the writer. Thus I think ancient scripture is just a crude version of science. Scriptures of any of the religion is simply an attempt to explain many of the things that any thoughtful human would want to contemplate about. For example origin of universe, purpose of life, explanations for worldly events that we witness in our life time, classification of animal kingdom, understanding of human nature, etcetera.

The seven deadly sins:

Wrath, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Pride, Sloth

is an attempt to generalize common human behavioral patterns. It is a decent model to explain human actions and motivations. All Human actions typically fall in one of those categories. When any of the behavior is repeatedly done to the extreme it becomes a sin. Understanding this model is a great way to keep your behavior in check and saving yourself from harming and helps in maintaining healthy society.

Ideally I would like to be in full control of my actions, making sure that they don’t cross that extremity where it can be labeled a sin. The reason is not necessarily that I have a strong sense of morality and great belief in God. It is rather because it feels like violation of my free will. When you fall victim of committing one of the sin; you find your actions driven by that motivation heavily. That obligation on your action means loss of free will in your actions. It is pretty irritating state to be in. Feeling of lost control over metaphorical ship that you are; in the journey of life time.

I really want to talk about one particular sin; the sloth. The one sin I fall victim to from time to time. Procrastination is the form in which this sloth manifests. Putting off gym, putting off guitar practice, not reading that one book you wanted to read for long time, procrastinating at work, putting off learning that new skill that will boost your career, abandoning that side project which never got past 10 commit in repository, putting off that new initiative you wanted to take at workplace. The list goes on.

Why do we fall in this rut. I want to get to the bottom of this. Why is it so difficult to just do things you know you are supposed to do. Is it because doing nothing feels better than doing something? Or is it because you are stupid lay person who only derives value out of things that give instant gratification? Or because there is some demoralizing factor for doing the task so instead you are doing other meaningless filler activities like browsing social media and watching YouTube to suppress anxiousness and boredom?

The real reason for procrastination is fear of failure, I don’t procrastinate because doing nothing feels better than doing some work, it is the anticipation of imperfect delivery, anxiety of humiliation, fear of failing to meet our own standards of quality. I procrastinate until the state of doing nothing becomes more dreadful compared to fear of failing or it trumps the fear of doing something with imperfection at least.

I keep falling in this rut again and again. But now since I have understood it there are few things I can remind myself when it happens.

Recognize it and acknowledge it when procrastinating.

Tell yourself that doing it even imperfect is better than doing nothing.

Don’t over estimate the consequences of failure.

Trust in people that there will not be humiliation but encouragement.

I hope this helps next time I find myself procrastinating.

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