For many years, I knew I struggled with laziness and procrastination. I resisted doing what I was supposed to be doing when I was supposed to be doing it. As I tried to overcome laziness, I found it so difficult. I thought that if I tried to do something, instead of avoiding it, I should easily get it done.
That was not the case for me.
I had misnamed the struggle. I thought it was just laziness but it turns out, I was dealing with sloth.
I believe that this is a common issue that is mostly unidentified in our society today. St. Thomas Aquinas had this to say about the vice of sloth, sloth is a sadness arising from the fact that the good is difficult.
That is exactly what I was experiencing. Any attempt I would make would end up cloaked in sadness due to how difficult it was to carry it through. I figured I was doing this wrong - that breaking bad habits and forming good ones shouldn't be this difficult. I didn't realize that the sadness was arising due to this slothful cycle.
I learned that sloth is so dangerous because it gives rise to other sins. Slothfulness fed my pride. I didn't want others to know how difficult it was for me to get things done or form better habits. I became judgmental by looking at others' lives and hoping I could find where they were struggling so I could justify my own struggles. Once I identified this bad "habit" as sloth, it didn't take me long to decide something needed to change.
D is for diligence.
I was scouring the internet trying to find someone who had written for mamas who were stuck in slothfulness and I found a post on Elizabeth Foss' website. I wasn't able to find the post I originally read but here is a similar one called On Being Intentional (she also does a great job walking readers through how to create daily and weekly routines).
She has been a beacon of hope for me as a mama. She writes honestly about the joys and struggles of motherhood and overcoming burnout. She was the only person I could find who addressed sloth and motherhood.
She acknowledged that slothfulness is different than being overwhelmed with a lot of little kids and no time to do anything. In my experience, it becomes pretty obvious when life is just really crazy vs not getting anything done because I am stuck in slothfulness.
Foss encourages her readers to focus on diligence because it is the virtue that overcomes sloth. If sloth is a particular vice for us as mothers, what greater motivation to overcome it than to help our children grow in virtue.
She explains that when we work alongside our children diligently, we inoculate our children against sloth.
This was all confirmed when I was having coffee with a friend about a year ago. She was explaining that she and her daughter were working on learning about the letter "d" that week and the virtue they were working on was diligence. What a gift to be able to grow with our children in virtue although I did feel a little sheepish when I said - hey, that's the virtue I am working on right now, too!
Taking it a step further.
Identifying areas of slothfulness in my life and replacing it with diligence has been a game changer for me. Tackling the task at hand has been one way I regularly attempt to apply diligence to my day. However, I found that I could still go about it with a grumbling attitude.
Enter, alacrity, a brisk and cheerful readiness.
The dictionary provides the contextual example: she accepted the invitation with alacrity. When I read that, I wondered, when was the last time I accepted an invitation, a task or request with alacrity whether from my children, husband or God?
My goal now is to go about tackling the task at hand with alacrity - a brisk and cheerful readiness to complete whatever it is before me.
Will you join me in replacing a slothful disposition with alacrity? It's not easy but the peace and joy waiting for us on the other side is so worth it.
Thanks for being here!
Photo: Anna Ligocki Photography