That's spot on. It's really upsetting to hear people say that about children, especially people with authority (parents, grandparents). DON'T DO THAT!
Or, if you have to do that (!?!) at least be positive. Don't tell a kid she's bad at math, tell her she's good at math and you're surprised she doesn't get good grades -- she's a natural! all of this should be sooo easy for her! there must be something holding her back.
People tend to conform to other people's opinions of them; they will get good at math just to match the image we're projecting on them.
I call my kids out for being lazy when they're being lazy.
Examples from this morning "I don't know what the second rucksack is": meaning "I can't be bothered getting it out the rucksack, you do it for me", my answer "You just want someone else to do it, stop being lazy and get it yourself". Also "I can't do it [take off my boots]": meaning "I don't want to bother, and my hands will get dirty", my answer "why should someone else get their hands dirty, just because you can't be bothered to pull" (then I demonstrated what to do, then mimicked his pretending he couldn't do it in order to demonstrate I knew what he was up to). It's not for nothing my kids get me Darth Vader merchandise!
> '"I don't like the word 'addict' because it has terrible connotations," Root says one day, as they are sunning themselves on the afterdeck. "Instead of slapping a label on you, the Germans would describe you as 'Morphiumsüchtig.' The verb, suchen means to seek. So that might be translated, loosely, as 'morphine seeky' or even more loosely as 'morphine-seeking.' I prefer 'seeky' because it means that you have an inclination to seek morphine."
> '"What the fuck are you talking about?" Shaftoe says.
> '"Well, suppose you have a roof with a hole in it. That means it is a leaky roof. It's leaky all the time—even if it's not raining at the moment. But its only leaking when it happens to be raining. In the same way, morphine-seeky means that you always have this tendency to look for morphine, even if you are not looking for it at the moment. But I prefer both of them to 'addict,' because they are adjectives modiying Bobby Shaftoe instead of a noun that obliterates Bobby Shaftoe."
süchtig = addicted, hooked
seeking = suchend
"Stop slacking" might be better; it unambiguously refers to current behavior that a person can change immediately.
It calls "being lazy" an intransitive verb
"Being lazy" is a transient state.
That's the important distinction here.
I loved volunteering in my son's classroom(s). But I admit to having rage-fits when a beautiful, sweet, talented little 6 year old boy forfeits on a task, telling me "I'm stupid, I can't do anything".
There's no question how his parents talked to him.
If I couldn't immediately answer the question, I felt was just stupid and it wasn't worth my time.
This, in spite of a family insisting I was the greatest.
Some would argue it's because of your family insisting you were the greatest, in part.
>At some point I decided if I had to work at anything, I didn't want to do it. If I couldn't immediately answer the question, I felt [it] was just stupid and it wasn't worth my time.
Yep, you are a smart, great person. Your family loves you because of all of the smart, great things you do, in part. If something is hard and doesn't come naturally to you? It must be something stupid and not great. So don't worry, you are still smart and great, and people still love you. Don't try anything hard.
I'm obviously being facetious, but according to some experts (though not all, not even most), that emotional dynamic is encouraged by praising kids for their intelligence or abilities, instead of effort. I don't know how much I believe it, but that type of weird insecurity does seem fairly common among intelligent people who were extremely precocious.
I'm convinced that the more we all tell kids that practice beats talent by a long shot, the happier our next generation will be. Even if only some people around a kid talk like that I'm convinced it can make a difference, get people into this growth mindset when they're big.
(TED talk about the growth mindset, if the term feels like manager bullshit mumbo jumbo to you: https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing...)
What would you say to a kid who says "I'm stupid, I can't do anything"?
I went through a phase in high school where I was convinced I was very stupid. My parents certainly didn't talk to me that way, though.
Learning to fake cry to get adults to do things is pretty much the first intentional communication a baby learns as far as I can tell.
However, a word like "lazy" is a bit tricky. While you are saying "stop being lazy" (meaning - please cease the behavior you are exhibiting in this moment) it can have an undertone of "you are lazy", especially if repeated over the course of days/months/years.
I wonder if there is a better phrasing to respond in a scenario like a kid not searching for his own backpack. Maybe "Do the work!"
This may backfire on you down the road.
Your children may stop respecting you as they gain independence.
I wish more people understood/accepted this.
e: this is after massive academic self sabotage that ended up with him barely graduating from high school on the special ed track despite being probably 130+iq. He would show up late to every class, refuse to do his assignments, and roll his eyes and loudly yawn to mock the teachers the teachers before falling asleep at his desk. Despite this he'd still end up topping out exams in physics, chemistry, etc. But there were other issues at play like my mother being sick our whole childhood and my father having emotional and social problems from an abusive childhood.
Children lose respect for parents that are inconsistent, don’t have their shit together, or that do literally everything for them.
As pointed out in sibling comments your job as a parent is not to get your children to like you.
I don't mean that in the sense of "unconditional love" but a pragmatic day to day annoyance and dissatisfaction that keeps building up. Don't accept that as normal.
If you start resenting the presence or behavior of your children you need to act. Better act long before that.
And you know what, they actually do learn over time and their behavior does improve.
Saying "okay darling, I'll take your shoes off," doesn't built respect, quite the opposite, it teaches them to continue to manipulate you and that leads to a massive amount of disrespect.
The person I respect most in life is my grandma and she is the only one who called out the bullshit in me when she saw it. Same with my baby cousin (I'm more than 20 years older than him), he's a teenager now and I'm his favorite person in the world and I was the only person who called him out and let him know I expected him to behave around me, his parents let him walk all over them. He certainly had and still has zero respect for his parents.
Speaking of my baby cousin, his dad once asked me why I correct his grammar. I told him I didn't mind how he talks around his friends, but I wanted him to learn to speak correctly for the times he needs to portray himself professionally, like a job interview.
But the truth is that parenting is a huge messy business that never goes according to plan. You will screw up your kids in subtle ways, even if you avoid the major landmines. This is not due to any failing beyond being a human being that was also raised by fallible parents. The other parents on HN will appreciate this: how many times have you heard the words coming out of your mouth and thought "Oh my god. I swore I would never say that to my child! I sound just like my mother(or father)!" Way too many times, lol. It's completely unavoidable. This thought is usually followed by a small voice which sheepishly admits "So that's why they said that to me!"
As the article says, it is truly up to each one of us to remove the imaginary shackles of self-definition. We, as children, are willing co-conspirators in the building of our own false self-image. It is necessary to have a rigid model of ourselves in childhood? I guess that's debatable, but I would argue that it probably is. I think it gets us through to adulthood, where it can and should be gently discarded as a tool (like bicycle training wheels) that was once useful but no longer is.
Totally, and that goes for systems as well as children.
It’s amazing how a lot of my childhood memories started making sense after I had a kid.
If we only comment on how inherently good they are they might get lazy as whenever they get bad grades excuses like "I wasn't trying" works. It doesn't matter if the parents continue being surprised of the bad grades, the answer can also be "I was just lazy".
This is exactly what happened to me and I'm still trying to reprogram myself.
You'll see that and related phrases as buzzwords sometimes.
Psychologists can't replicate Carol Dweck's 'Growth Mindset' claims: https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomchivers/what-is-your-mindset
> The findings of Dweck’s key study have never been replicated in a published paper, which is noteworthy in so high-profile a work. One scientist told BuzzFeed News that his attempt to reproduce the findings has so far failed. An investigation found several small but revealing errors in the study that may require a correction.
It is likely another hypothesized model from the social psychology field that doesn't actually exist, in the same category as Stereotype Threat and Power Posing.
It often just takes mentioning these concepts to someone for them to have an epiphany and get on the growth mind track.
I'm not sure they meant it this way but now that I'm older I realize that those 'gifts' could simply have been a healthy brain, free of any obvious learning disability, chronic fatigue or ADHD-like symptoms. And lo and behold, when I did in fact put in the effort I'd get Bs and As.
As a parent I use that approach with my son and, so far, it seems to be working.
And what's more, this "grit" trait, the propensity to follow through and get stuff done, appears to be a set of inherited traits as well.
I myself did this after struggling with a really good (ie. hard) chemistry class in high school. I avoided it in college until I was forced to take it, and found that I loved it. I have always regretted drawing a premature conclusion about my aptitude for chemistry.
I don't think you're really wrong, I just think it's much harder than you're making it sound, and I wonder if the cure is worse than the disease.
I think one must be careful with this. I'd use that approach if my kid got a single bad grade among otherwise great grades in math. But I wouldn't tell her that if I knew she wasn't good at math - that would just be dishonest, and kids can tell.
My approach with my daughter is to praise her for things I've observed she's good at, and to make comments about the thing itself when I see her struggling. When she struggles with something, I encourage her by telling her that the thing itself is hard, instead of downplaying her ability to accomplish it. When applicable, I tell her it's hard even for me, as in "it's hard even for a 30-year old grown ass dude like me, so don't fret over it."
And finally, if I see her struggling with something I believe she shouldn't at her age (e.g. handwriting), I look up resources that will help me help her, or ultimately seek external help.
Since I'm reading HN of course I'm good at math. However, I don't really believe there is any such thing -- rather I had some good teachers, and father who knew math and who was willing to invest time explaining it to me, and something of a desire to "understand everything" which of course includes (starts with) Mathematics. Deep down I guess I think that perhaps when you get to Hilbert's problems _then_ you might be talking "hard math" but until then it really isn't that much to get your head around. You just need a decent teacher, time and effort.
So now I have two sons. Both I will say struggled somewhat with Math up to 7th grade when they hit a good teacher. By "struggled" I mean they got constant A/A+ but I had to put in significant work (as did they) to get them there. First son now in 9th grade gets continuous A+ without any help from me. Sometimes I ask him questions about what he's studying, and try to expand his horizons accordingly. The other son in 7th grade is still somewhat struggling but I can feel he is getting to a turning point.
Second son would often become disillusioned and say "I'm just not good at math". I can just imagine teachers and family members nodding in agreement. I didn't do that : I told him he just doesn't understand it yet but he will.
Anyway, my concern in this is : how many kids end up believing they're "not good at math" due to their teachers, family and environment? How many scientists and engineers (or just members of the public who understand statistics and interest rates...) are we losing because the idea that "math is hard" is so widely held and propagated like a virus?
I read HN, I assure I am not good at math. :P
Note that a) your sons are linked to you genetically; b) your sons' genetics likely differ. You can't actually derive any useful information from this anecdote alone.
I think it's a mixed issue. There most likely are differences in effectiveness of picking up math in people, and they may be significant, but the environment is making them too significant and creating unnecessary thresholds (i.e., if you can't do X math by age Y, there's a problem).
From what I've seen, most institutions want the most easily teachable students, which automatically selects for all ducks to be in the row, regardless of whether these factors are fatally influential. So if someone just has an easier time with math, for whatever reason, they'll have an easier time in general, because they require less work from institutions.
I think we have very little data of what good teaching can do because it largely doesn't exist, so mostly we're just looking at flat ability.
Understood. I think the information I feel I can derive is this : with sufficient effort you can turn a "can't do math" person into one that can, modulo your theory that there are some "untransformable" people.
>I think we have very little data of what good teaching can do because it largely doesn't exist
True, although in the case of my kids' teachers I can immediately tell which of them has any real appreciation for Mathematics and it seems to correlate strongly with outcome. For example our schools like to hire English teachers to teach math in middle school. That doesn't seem to work out so well.
Moreover, in my experience I see lots of people in the US say "I'm bad at math" if they are not good at algebra. Algebra is not math. Neither are fractions. Geometry is part of math. So are combinatorics, logic, numerical analysis, etc.
Violent language like your examples hurt people. Those hurts sum to resent and ultimately more violence. The following book goes into this in depth: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Marshall B. Rosenberg, Arun Gandhi
(Goes off and plays video games.)
Still, I prefer to use techniques that don't make my children feel unhappy, for obvious reasons. First the carrot, then the stick.
For example, if a child gets a good grade and you praise its intelligence instead of their work it seems that they won't put in the effort next time.
At the time all I would have wanted to hear is "it's okay if you don't do well on this one" (because it'd have taken the pressure off when I knew I couldn't do well) but what I really would have needed to hear would have been "yes, you're not well prepared, so you might not do well on this one but we'll help you prepare for next time so you won't be in this situation again".
I mostly got by avoiding homework and underperforming (I had the talent to do well enough but didn't put in the effort to take advantage of that) but my parents only intervened when I was at risk of having to repeat a year -- and at that point the only way to make progress was rote learning, which I hated and was (and still am) extremely bad at (because I had never done it before).
So IOW you may think your kid's a genius but the important thing is not to let them rest on their laurels. Don't obsess over grades but make sure your kid participates in class and does their homework like they should or else they'll skip on that out of habit and will be woefully underprepared when they run into situations where they can't get by on simply being a "genius" (which may be sooner than you think).
Everything creative was an inconvenience.
Her eldest is in and out of prison. Her daughter was pregnant at 14. Her youngest is violent and has already got a social worker.
If every creative or intellectual outlet is taken away from someone or they are demotivated, what is left?
It makes me sad when I hear of parents prescribing anything negative.
There's no sliver bullet to this problem.
Also, a positive comment for consolation purposes ("but you're so good at it!" when they actually aren't) is dishonest and kids can tell (I know I could at least, and I know my daughter can).
There's a really good book that talks about this (among other things) called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk .
"Wow, you have learned so much math this year because you worked really hard."
It is absolutely impossible to have the energy for both people in a relationship. My health is suffering from the stress. Things are so bad that I have to make sure she eats.
Nobody but me knows this side of her, she projects an image of a healthy, successful person.
A marriage is a zero-sum game. Any chore she doesn't do, I am forced to. I've gradually had to give up everything that makes me happy to fund this depression of hers. I used to be a serious lifter, I was well into writing two novels, I did electronics projects, had an active night life, went to concerts. Now, I'm just a robot that does chores.
I don't know you or your wife and can't presume to tell you how or whether to fix the situation (assuming it could be), but the lesson I learned long ago regarding relationships is to honestly evaluate yourself and define your capabilities and needs (not wants, but the things you absolutely require) and to either have your partner do the same (or less optimally evaluate them yourself as best you can). If you have a need that cannot be realistically satisfied by the _current_ capabilities of your partner, or vice versa, then end the relationship as quickly as you can. Attempting to have a relationship with someone who does not satisfy your needs, or you cannot satisfy theirs, is a doomed effort and the longer you remain in the relationship the worse and more hostile it will become. Walk away as friends before you build up resentments and end up leaving as enemies.
That definitely sounds like depression.
I think I know what the answer is going to be, but have you approached her about seeing a therapist?
For me it took a long time to acknowledge that it's not just my personality, it's a mental health issue and that there are people I could talk to about it (and that it needs to be an outsider). But most importantly I had to come to this realisation myself. You need to be willing to cooperate and to understand that this is a problem you want help solving.
Sometimes the risk of losing the person you love is what it takes to make that step. But sometimes people need even more than that.
Does she show motivation 9-5? If so there might be an answer that's more elaborate than "broad chemical imbalance," and a solution a lot more emotionally tractable than a divorce.
But yes, there's another dimension to it. In her mind she classifies things as helpless and not helpless, and has incredible compassion for helpless things but very little for everything else. I do not understand this.
Some things that help me: exercise, meditation, minimalism, routine (kaizen). These help to get me out of the procrastination zone.
A small question though: how does she increase chores compared to if you were living alone? is she very messy, or is it just annoying that you are doing the work for two people?
Ironically, living alone was much easier. The wife unit has good intentions but doesn't recognize her own limitations-- which are severe.
When I lived alone I could socialize. I had a cleaning service, my wife didn't' like this for some reason. She insisted I fire them but didn't pick up the slack despite being unemployed at the time. I had fewer dishes and shopping to do, less wear and tear on the house. One less car to do maintenance on. I could go out with friends We had to move in with my parents--after two years of three to 5 hours sleep, my brain was cooked.
To answer your question... She is beyond messy. Clothes were strewn next to the clothes hamper. I bought her a trashcan with an automatic lid and set it 9 inches from where she sat most of the day. She stacked her trash on the trash can.
You cant make this stuff up. I love her to death which is admittedly a dumb thing to do. But, this self-protection circuit in my brain kicks in and says "This individual will drag you to hell, don't let her."
Two days ago I sent her this text, because we can't talk anymore, "I’m at my breaking point. Again. 10hth time in our marriage at least? I’d like to discuss our options at this point."
She's put in a lot of effort since then (made dinner for the first time in a year). But, it's all an illusion. As soon as I decide I can live in the marriage, she'll revert to her pitiful state.
Nobody mentioned this so I'll do the honors: instead of looking at saving your wife, look at saving yourself, starting with 'what part me, made this at all possible?'
Folks who get taken advantage of almost universally have low self esteem - don't worry about trying to help every leech that's sucking the blood off of you - try moving out of the swamp.
The swamp is low self esteem, the leeches are people who also have low self esteem and engage in self destructive behaviour, dragging others down with them.
As someone with ADHD myself, I instantly recognized the inability to get myself to start working on something until the last minute (even if I really, really want to do it) and the piles clothes (despite my propensity for cleanliness). Another hallmark of ADHD that many don't know about is bursts of almost manic productivity for random tasks or when under extreme pressure.
If she does have ADHD, Polly's answer is both unhelpful and somewhat dangerous.
ADHD is actually decently prevalent, but often missed in girls who are not disruptive in class. Often they can get by with a strong support structure (parents and partners) but struggle with the independence of adulthood, which OP described. The risks of untreated ADHD can be far more destructive than many people realize (car crashes, depression, financial insecurity) so it's at least worth evaluating for in cases like this.
I mean, there are certainly people (maybe even most people) who function better on stimulants. And there are certainly people who don't function well when not on stimulants. But it's all a set of sliding scales, there's no clear line with "has ADHD" on one side and "just lazy" on the other.
In the meantime, here's a quote from "International Consensus Statement on ADHD" (Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, Vol. 5, No. 2, June 2002)
> We cannot overemphasize the point that, as a
matter of science, the notion that ADHD does not
exist is simply wrong. All of the major medical as-
sociations and government health agencies recognize
ADHD as a genuine disorder because the scientific
evidence indicating it is so overwhelming.
Key quote for this topic:
> But “ability to concentrate” is a normally distributed trait, like IQ. We draw a line at some point on the far left of the bell curve and tell the people on the far side that they’ve “got” “the disease” of “ADHD”. This isn’t just me saying this. It’s the neurostructural literature, the the genetics literature, a bunch of other studies, and the the Consensus Conference On ADHD. This doesn’t mean ADHD is “just laziness” or “isn’t biological” – of course it’s biological! Height is biological! But that doesn’t mean the world is divided into two natural categories of “healthy people” and “people who have Height Deficiency Syndrome“. Attention is the same way. Some people really do have poor concentration, they suffer a lot from it, and it’s not their fault. They just don’t form a discrete population.
(Emphasis mine - pointing out the sentence which, in original article, is basically one big collection of links to references backing it up.)
The biggest one that bugs me is the inability to automatically associate actions with their outcomes if the two are separated by more than a few minutes or hours. Associating a huge spending spree with the inability to eat in the future is nearly impossible, both in planning forward and looking back. Medication doesn't directly help with this, it requires explicit thinking through of the potential outcomes (which is in turn hampered by the primary inattentivity component of ADHD).
Procrastination is, oddly enough, borne out of this, and not inattentivity. Until the consequence is imminent, the value of doing an action is so close to 0 to not matter.
The other pathology which is also little discussed is hyper focus. A seeming benefit of having ADHD, until you realize there is little conscious control over what that focus latches onto. Again, medication doesn't help much here either, other than potentially limiting the topics you can hyperfocus on.
I guess I just ask that people keep in mind that there's more to ADHD than having trouble concentrating on a particular task.
Honestly, a mental health professional is the only one who can really provide the tools which fit your needs. There's a lot of coping mechanisms which can to be employed, from making extensive use of reminders, alarms, and schedules, to setting up routines, and sometimes just to acknowledge that your brain doesn't quite work right so you don't feel bad about having to work around it.
A psychiatrist is also the one who can prescribe medication. Those meds can help with the concentration issues - can help make it possible to even invoke the behavioral modifications - but medication alone doesn't solve the problems faced by someone with ADHD. I recommend a video  by Jessica at "How to ADHD" to see why medication can matter. Hell, I recommend that channel to anyone curious about ADHD - her story of coming to her current point in life is a great example of how medication alone is not enough.
Feeling like a constant failure has its own costs, which is why I also mention the counselor. The right one is going to be your non-judgemental sounding board for the myriad of frustrations in life. They are also cheaper than a psychiatrist, see fewer people overall, and can help take the tools provided by a psychiatrist and personalize them even further. You can even start with a counselor and find a psychiatrist they recommend from there.
1. The battleground is not a single choice or moment, but all of them.
2. There is a tendency to conflate results with character. If I have not done laundry and am wearing dirty clothes, am I a) a slovenly person, or b) a clean person who has not done laundry recently? The realization that I had no deep, abiding character flaws to address, that I could shortcut the entire "problem" of "fundamental laziness" by achieving the administrivia of life, was/is extremely encouraging.
3. The concept of "time capital" has been a good hook on which to congratulate myself, giving dopamine rewards. Basically: washed dishes are a form of wealth just as much as is money in the bank.
4. Reminding myself that no spectactular effort is reuired, that rather consistent and low-intensity effort is the key, has been helpful. I've always been good at high-intensity tasks---sports, outdoors, crunch time---and much worse at low-intensity ones. On the one hand it is something of a "life sentence" to realize that there are fewer opportunities to goof around, but it is ameliorated somewhat by realizing that the sentence is light labor, not hard stuff.
I would love to talk more about this---my life has had significant difficulties because of "laziness" and seems to be turning around at the moment---but some of those elementary tasks call right now.
Edit: Later. One of the big obstacles, I think is the ethereal nature of the problem. How does one "do" "not-laziness?" What is the momentary choice one can make that will beat the thing once and for all? And what possible paychological reward can there be for staving the spectre off for one more day, knowing that it will simply return tomorrow?
The 80-iq change of perspective, imo, is the mental action of asking oneself: "What can I do in this moment that will advance my goals?" (as opposed to: what can I do now that would match up with my mental image of what a "disciplined person" would do?) This gives you something concrete you can do now, and frames things as to offer a carrot rather than a stick.
One notable thing about this approach is that it often results in less work, as you realize that such-and-such task, while "virtuous," will not actually help you advance your station in life. This can actually be somewhat terrifying, as you worry that this is actually some trick you are playing to get out of work. I guess the sum-up is: don't fall into the trap of morally judging yourself as "industrious" or "lazy." The virtues to cultivate are judgment and efficacy, exercised consistently, not "industriousness."
'Attention' is normally distributed, but the environments that smoothly manage different degrees of attention are not.
Does that mean we should be prescribing amphetamine to those who don't function well in the available environments?
> A. A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development [...]
> B. Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present prior to age 12 years.
> C. Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms are present in two or more settings (e.g., at home, school, or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
> D. There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, academic, or occupational functioning.
(DSM V: https://images.pearsonclinical.com/images/assets/basc-3/basc...)
In one form or another, person X environment has been central to the definition of mental health for most of modern psychology, going back at least as far as Freud(maybe)'s "to love and to work".
Or, to put it another way, does that mean we should be prescribing glasses to those who don't see well in the available environments?
Concentration is a skill that can be practiced. I've struggled with it myself and have found that meditation is far more effective than medication in dealing with it. Moreover, when I do retreats or backpacking trips where I'm cut off from the digital world, all my concentration issues disappear. It's made me believe that modern psychiatry is myopiclly focused on identifying and treating symptoms and largely ignores the avoidable causes of those symptoms.
I disagree with that, even though I agree a lot of mental issues are heavily environmental. The reason psychiatry tries to work around them is that the environment of modern civilization is what we have, it's not going to change (easily), and in the meantime, people need to live somehow. Backpacking retreats are a cool hack if you can afford it regularly, but most people can't - they get maybe one longer stretch of free time a year.
The environment we live in is wholly unlike the environment we're adapted to. I'm not sure if we can or want to get meaningfully closer to the old days to alleviate our mental pains - for all our adaptations, the ancestral environment sucked hard compared to today, and modern civilization fixed at least as much as it broke.
People are lazy, but they also do not want to completely ruin their life, so they will wait until they realize they cant wait anymore, doing the minimum amount at the last minute to meet the goal.
To be more clear as to the diagnosis: there is a definite difference between people who don't want to pay attention to certain tasks (the vast majority) and those who cant (the minority that do have legitimate ADHD).
A premise for Adhd is that, for some reason, developement of the latter is delayed causing an apparent lack of the former. The inpairment is in executive control itself, which is why your argument actually is in favour of diagnosis.
Also having the capacity to concentrate but refraining from using it is an active choice; people doing that won't be complaining that they can't focus.
> New high-resolution, three-dimensional maps of the brains of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) indicate significant and specific anatomical differences within areas of the brain thought to control attentional and inhibitory control systems, compared with brain scans of children without ADHD... The reductions in size of prefrontal regions observed by Sowell and her colleagues are consistent with other reports of reduced frontal lobe volumes in children with ADHD. The more advanced imaging methods and analysis used in the current study, however, suggest that those reductions are localized to more inferior aspects of the prefrontal regions than was previously realized.
> In instances where heredity does not seem to be a factor, difficulties during pregnancy, prenatal exposure to alcohol and tobacco, premature delivery, significantly low birth weight, excessively high body lead levels, and postnatal injury to the prefrontal regions of the brain have all been found to contribute to the risk for ADHD to varying degrees.
> Recently, neuroimaging has led to several important advances in the understanding of the neurobiology underlying the clinical picture of ADHD, and demonstrates a clear brain basis to the disorder in regions involved in attention, and executive and inhibitory control. Furthermore, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has provided evidence that intracortical inhibition, as indexed by the immature ipsilateral motor cortex, normalises with psychostimulant treatment. There is an exciting confluence between emerging studies in basic neurobiology and the genetic, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological analyses of ADHD.
Not in the sense that it's definitively tied to a specific pathway disrupted by this or that SNP, but it appears to be heritable in much the same way that height is heritable.
At a point the bigger problem with adult ADHD is how much you end up beating yourself up. It's a good thing to try to keep yourself honest and accountable for your actions as an adult, but when your brain just doesn't cooperate you need to learn to forgive yourself and depend on external systems where possible. I dont think this advice will help much with that.
This also describes a lot of people's normal behavior. I don't have ADHD and do everything you describe and my wife does too.
How you conceptualize your identity is a huge factor in addressing behavior pattern ambivalence. For me it somehow dovetails perfectly with a neurochemistry explanation because there's no bright line separating this stuff.
As a kid I coped with my inability to complete school assignments on time by not identifying with success in school. This reinforced my existing faults.
Learning to crush that coping mechanism out of existence was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
Both cause a kind of short-circuiting of the “automatic thoughts” we have in response to emotional triggers. In cognitive behavioral therapy, something like procrastination is addressed by listing all of the thoughts you have in response to the thing you’re avoiding, identifying irrationalities, and forming rational responses. It can be very effective at easing anger, fear, sadness, and lack of motivation.
With mindfulness, over time it’s possible to begin decoupling your true self from all of the labels. This is also known as “ego death”, and can be somewhat painful and uncomfortable - the ego tends to fight back when it feels you letting go of it. In deep meditation it can be almost frightening to experience the ego disappear; we go through most of our lives thinking we are the labels we’ve associated with ourselves. To let go of the labels can feel like letting go of yourself. Blissful meditation is a state of just being; no labels.
I recommend checking out the book “Feeling Good” if you want to know more about CBT, and there are tons of resources on mindfulness, but Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind is great (as well as most of Alan Watts’ lectures you can find on YouTube).
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) was created, IIRC, from seeing people go through CBT but still suffer from emotions & avoidance. While it overlaps with CBT in some ways, it identifies things like the way language shapes our thinking, and proposes we lead by our values instead of by our emotions. Be present in the moment, accept your feelings but don't justify your behavior by them, and do what matters.
I only figured I'd mention, because I recently learned about ACT after being an advocate for CBT, and coming to see where they work and where they don't.
The fact that she has succeeded in getting A's with waiting until the last minute and not putting in much effort, indicates that she is very smart. I have noticed that really smart people seem to lack motivation and get bored very easily. The two closest people to me are like this. The thing is though, when they find something that does interest them, there is no stopping them. They turn into the hardest working people around.
The key to turning around my perceived lazyness, personally, is about trying to control the value of what I spend my time on.
I tend to be suspicious of this kind of move, where what seems like a character flaw is explained away as something more benign. In the article in question, the author suggests that the woman writing in is not really lazy, but has been holding back out of fear that she might disappoint herself. But why can't she just be lazy? I don't doubt that there are people who have the kind of subtle psychology that the author suggests. But I wonder if we're too eager to accept such explanations because they are more comforting than more straightforward, harsher ones.
Ignoring all of these questions and simply considering laziness to be a fundamentally characteristic is highly unsatisfying and, dare I say, lazy.
Maybe the authors explanation is wrong, but she offers a potential explanation. Your proposal is simply that 'she is lazy because she is lazy' which offers no explanatory power.
A few months ago my little brother was taking an introductory CS class. I warned him not to procrastinate his assignments, because you can't hurry programming. Nine women can't make a baby in one month, etc.
I think "laziness" is similar: it's an emergent phenomenon to be debugged, not a single "thing" to be attacked with more-of something.
Absolutely not. Self-sabotage is psychology 101.
> why can't she just be lazy
Because laziness, like demonic possession and telepathy has not been identified by any medical science.
> we're too eager to accept such explanations because they are more comforting than more straightforward, harsher ones
Or maybe one explanation is backed by decades of research while the idea of "laziness" is backed by nothing more than popular culture and some religions.
Laziness is preserving energy, which seems pretty vital to survival for me. Have you ever seen a "lazy" lion just laying there, doing nothing most of the day? The reason why he's not running around all day doing active stuff is because of survival, energy preservation. He will put his energy where it is most important, food and sex. He's even so lazy that he lets the ladies hunt for him.
So I don't understand in what kind of world you are living where laziness is not a real thing.
Did you use an animal example because every human example sounds ridiculous alongside your premise?
But sometimes instincts can work against us, that's for sure. Look at fear or anger, and sure, laziness.
"Laziness (also called indolence) is disinclination to activity or exertion despite having the ability to act or exert oneself. It is often used as a pejorative; terms for a person seen to be lazy include couch potato, slacker, and bludger."
To clarify: I'm talking about "laziness" as a pejorative - e.g. something to be ashamed of.
Your example is about good prioritization and saving precious energy and there's nothing bad about it especially when food is scarce.
For example instead of doing the dishes immediately they will wait until they pile up with dried food stuck to them making the total effort much bigger.
Identifying character flaws doesn't help a person fix them - which is the only thing that should matter. Because it's all about some factor making a person unable to do things that are in their best interest, often also causing huge emotional distress when said person attempts to behave in a "more correct" (by their own standards) way.
C.f. http://lesswrong.com/lw/2as/diseased_thinking_dissolving_que..., which is an interesting article on the way we frame diseases and character flaws.
I wish HN would ban BS psychology articles. There are real, scientific, actionable steps to understanding perceived motivational deficit and this article doesn't get close to them. It retreads stigmatizing labels, regurgitates useless advice, and provokes high confidence low value anecdotes.
1. Motivation is a chemical state.
You can induce motivation generically through dopamine reuptake inhibitors. Why do you think Adderall makes you clean your room? It's not a sudden hatred for dust, it's that your baseline motivation to accomplish any task is enhanced and you're in a task rich environment with a messy room. Many other interesting chemical pathways and interventions exist to directly change the frequency and nature of task initiation performance and completion.
2. Environment strongly impacts internal chemical state.
Take an "addicted" rat and put her into a rich environment and the apparently highly motivating cocaine reward looses its attraction. Take a minimally athletic human and put a bear behind them and they will run.
In neither of the above does a person need to re-evaluate their life and identity, utter crap.
My point here is that HN has an unusual respect for technically interesting and accurate news. It's not all gold, but it seems to favor factual pieces over largely emotional and unproductive arguments. Pop-psychology and feel good generic advice blogs are firmly in that second category. Their value has not advanced since the 50s and we should start seeing them as the kind of harmful, anti-scientific, community deviding memes they are.
> You can induce motivation generically through dopamine reuptake inhibitors.
This is dangerous advice, implied or otherwise. You cannot use dopaminergic drugs to modulate motivation in the long-term due to rapid tolerance to the motivational effects of stimulants. Yes, an acute dose of Adderall will provide a burst of energy, but it won't magically motivate you to channel that energy into building a new startup instead of intensely focusing on a video game for the next 6 hours.
Stimulants are not a long-term solution to motivation problems for the same reasons that opioids are not a solution to depression. Motivation, happiness, and contentment are all very complex phenomena that cannot be reduced to singular chemicals in the brain. It's true that you can temporarily induce feelings with certain drugs, such as a burst of euphoria from a dose of opioids, but the brain rapidly adjusts to those chemical modulators.
Opioids have their place in chronic pain treatment, of course, just as Adderall has its place in chronic ADHD treatment. But we must be clear that the mood and motivation boosting effects of these drugs are a temporary side effect, not a sustainable feature.
Motivation is a much more complex phenomenon that is deeply intertwined with human psychology. Dismissing those complexities as simple chemical states that are well-understand from rodent studies is missing the point.
It sounds like you're basically talking about ego depletion, which has come under fire in the past few years, with what little evidence there was for it coming into doubt:
Unfortunately, things like dopaminergic drugs are a blunt instrument, and it's not as simple as "add adderall, get productivity".
The role of dopamine in risk taking
Dopaminergic Modulation of Risk-Based Decision Making
Procrastination and Dopamine Receptor Density
One of many candidate drug evaluations - https://academic.oup.com/ijnp/article/17/12/2045/2910067
Dosage dependant effects and tolerance - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/2530095/
Environment protecting against addiction - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22157144/
Edit - Couldn't find a good source for the bear thing. Apologies!
"Motivation is a chemical state" is a tautology in the context of psychology. Every human behavior and emotion derives from the chemical state of the brain. If someone is chronically unsatisfied with their life, would you reduce their concerns to "Happiness is a chemical state"? Stating as much does not add value to the discussion, nor is it actionable.
Likewise, in the context of human motivation it's not relevant to discuss rodent lever-pushing behavior following acute administration of large doses of high-potency DAT inhibitors. If someone is unhappy, would you provide links to studies showing that rodent display increased liking behaviors after administration of a potent opioid?
Stimulants like Adderall do induce generic motivation in the short-term, but that's not anyone is discussing here. Implying that stimulants are a source of motivation is dangerous advice. The motivational effects are largely temporary, and quickly give way to tolerance. Note that the attention-improving effects mostly remain in this case.
Drug abusers who seek motivation-boosting effects from stimulants either give up after tolerance sets in, or they settle into patterns of dose escalation in a futile attempt to outrun tolerance.
Dopaminergic stimulant abusers often have extremely high motivation during their binges, but it does not translate to anything useful after marathon obsessive cleaning sessions or internet binges. That's because motivation, in the context of what we're discussing here, is far more complex than just modulating your brain's dopaminergic systems with chemicals. Motivation is a much broader topic that involves discipline, goal-oriented behavior, prioritization, self-reflection, and many other complex phenomena that can't be reduced into a singular brain chemical like dopamine.
It sounds like you don't believe ADHD is a real disease, which has come under fire in the past few years due to skyrocketing rates of diagnosis, with pop psychologists believing that it's a scam by the pharmaceutical industry.
The brain may be "just chemicals" but it's an incredibly complex system of them, to the point where high level abstractions, like "psychology" can be useful.
To expand on your model, I would argue that things described in this article, like your fundamental assumptions about yourself and the world are "part of your environment" and therefore part of something which you seem to agree can have an affect on your behavior.
Diet is a big one. No (extra) sugar - definitely no soda, cut back on the dessert, no fruit - it's just dessert vegetables).
No caffeine - a large highly caffeinated Philz coffee is the legal equivalent of a small amount of meth. No alcohol either.
Get enough sleep every night.
Get enough physical exercise to take the edge off.
No background TV noise. Dim the lights.
Get out in nature, which is generally less stimulating - fewer brightly colored billboards, cars, amplified music, etc.
Google has a large list for those that don't want to resort to Adderall.
The newly wed lady, just wrote a few paragraphs about her. And Polly went on a long rambling trip making lot of assumptions (e.g. her over-achieving family). Psychiatrists need to ask more next level questions. Here looks like she just wanted to write a long one, perhaps coinciding with her long walk on a treadmill.
To be truthful, I did enjoy some pieces, specifically the 'igniting the dynamite' part as she ends her piece.
But If I were the 'sloth', I would be super confused now. Oh My God. I thought I was just lazy and procrastinating type, didn't know I was messed up this bad.
Reading this made me realize the futility of asking for advise from strangers, who would end up stereotyping you, into their known contexts. Better to improve life by reading suitable books. Or if need advise may be ask trusted friends - who don't assume context as they know you. Or psychiatry sessions may be better.
I understand this article isn't for everyone, or maybe even most people, but it's for sure the thing I needed to read now.
Treat it as breadcrumbs from someone farther along on the journey of growth and self-discovery.
Actually the less code I use to get a task done the better the code is and I get a dopamine hit.
Also, if I write a great script that saves me hours on a boring manual task, I get another dopamine hit.
As a 10x coder I wonder if all these dopamine hits (20+ years) have short circuited my brain and made me want to do everything with the least amount of effort as possible.
Or, maybe I'm just lazy ;)
Maybe I'm missing the bigger picture, but how is the author not just another one of the squirrels she describes?
I'm actually a bit surprised so many people here are quickly falling into conclusions about what was and wasn't said when it doesn't seem like it has been explored enough to have anything conclusive determined from it..
But then it's also just an essay meant to speak to certain people and not for everyone in a popular magazine, so eh.
Now I'm just crazy but no one can accuse me of laziness.
A quick summary: It’s kind of easy, if you don’t feel a true sense of emergency, you’ll natuaraly not do it.
What's wrong with that?
Some people have laid their heart open to the benign indifference of the universe and are just like: "what's the point?"
-- Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord (1878-1943), Commander-in-Chief of the Reichswehr
On OP, maybe I just don't get advice columns. Here's two paragraphs, now tell me how to live my life. How is that supposed to be helpful to the wide set of human behavior?
Being "lazy" about some things is good for you. Do not focus much on stuff which is not very important for you personally.
1) those who want to avoid labour, the lazy, some of whom are driven to invention to reduce their labour in order to have more leisure;
2) those who are happy to work in the current system, the content, they get on and do what's needed;
3) those who want to reduce their direct labour in the current system in order to "labour" in other ways, the driven, they want to automate daily living so they can work on other things;
There are subgroups within these for example "the lazy" has a group who will accept a lower quality of life in order to reduce labour, and a group who will prefer to use other people's labour to reduce their own, etc., etc..
There are lot of people preaching that being "efficient" all your life is what you should aim for and, weirdly, everyone accepts this as unquestionable truth.
I have also experienced this for an equal but opposite reason. Not a fear of failure but a fear of success, either because it feels undeserved or because of the responsibility that might come with it.
To quote that thing that Mandela didn't say:
> 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?
TL;DR: You aren't qualified to condemn every "lazy" person on the planet, so quit it with the victim-blaming. Some people need this kind of advice but you aren't the person that should be giving it. Let the professionals do it, because they can, first, do no harm.
The article is a letter to an advice columnist wherein a person describes herself as lazy, and the columnist literally says: "Doing the bare minimum at the last minute isn’t lazy. It’s simply a choice, devoid of moral weight. It’s a strategy that’s mostly worked for you, up until this point."
So I'm finding it hard to understand:
> You aren't qualified to condemn every "lazy" person on the planet.
Who are you addressing?
I believe not, or given the length of the thing and current attention span trends, GP skimmed over it (!= genuinely read), because the following is a direct quote from TFA:
> Get a therapist
> You aren't qualified to condemn every "lazy" person on the planet, so quit it with the victim-blaming.
The essence of the column is precisely the opposite. The columnist directly says that the person should not blame herself like she does and that she shouldn't call herself lazy.
this is highly contentious
I believe that medications can be extremely helpful, but aren't always, and it's tragic we don't understand why. We desperately need objective, quantitative means of measuring what the problem is and what meds do. It takes a rather long time before meds have an effect, so it seems obvious to me that the common saying that they "correct chemical imbalances" can't be correct - otherwise meds would be take immediate effect. People speculate that it takes time for neurons to grow, but we really don't know specifically what's going on with either a mental condition or a treatment.
My dream is for care for mental illness to be improved to resemble diabetes, where you can check a metric like blood sugar, quickly correct it if it is too high or low, and check long term health with a metric analogous to A1C.
It may be unclear to some whether I am disagreeing with the statement in the parent about contentiousness.
If you accept that different people have different experiences, then it no longer makes sense to "contend" which is the true reality. The different experiences are all real.
 Which is not to say that there's no place for psychiatric medication, but they should not be the first course of action.
Because blaming and shaming people for their mental conditions makes treatment harder.
Because if we are talking about people who tried to change and did not succeeded multiple times, adding more shame solves literally nothing.
Please name two such tricks.
The crux of the problem here is trying to conform to some ideal of what a good person is and using drugs to get there. Then you will be happy and all is good in life. Until something else comes along and back to square one again.