BEIJING, June 8 (Xinhua) — According tomedia reports, the epidemic of new coronapneumonia has forced many people around the world to stay at home and avoid going out to gather. On social media, a recent clip attracted more than three million views. In the video, American comedian Larry David urges people to follow official advice and stay at home in order to stop the spread of new coronapneumonia in his trademark taunting style. What’s wrong with you idiots, he said. You’ve given up a great opportunity to sit in an armchair all day watching TV!
We’re used to health warnings, such as taking more exercise, or eating five, eight or even 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. We often have little incentive to put these proposals into practice. But this time, the official advice sounds simple: you can stay at home, lie on the couch, watch TV, and play games. Everything seems to fit our lazy nature.
In fact, it’s not that simple. You may find that, as humans, we are not biologically fit to do nothing. On the contrary, our lives lie in motion. Or, at least, we should have a good balance between busyness and rest.
Indeed, we often make easier choices, looking for paths with the least resistance or shortcuts to success. If you have a remote control, why get up and turn on the TV? If there is a car, why go to the supermarket by bike? If you can do half the work less than your colleagues, why not?
Any form of work or effort involves mental and physical burdens, so it is understandable to avoid them as much as possible. Sometimes that’s what we do, and that’s called the “minimum effort principle” – people try to minimize all the necessary efforts when solving any problem. You might think that no one will try to break this principle, but in fact, we are always breaking it.
Have you ever dreamed of doing nothing? For example, lie in a hammock for an afternoon, staring at the ceiling, listening to the sound of silence. It may sound like a lovely idea, but in fact, we’ll find it hard to do nothing but sleep. A few years ago, in a well-known study conducted at the University of Virginia in the United States, participants were taken into a room with no interference at all. They don’t have phones, books, electronic screens, and aren’t even allowed to take naps. The researchers mounted electrodes on their ankles and left them alone for 15 minutes. Obviously, this is an opportunity to give them a break.
What’s the result? The researchers showed the participants a device before leaving them alone. Participants feel an electric shock when they press the computer button connected to a machine. You might think that participants won’t try a second time after trying one, but that’s not the case. The results found that 71 percent of the men and 25 percent of the women in the participants had at least one electric shock during their confinement, and one man even gave himself 190. Nothing can be done, it turns out, is so painful that many participants prefer to torture themselves rather than suffer from the anxiety of having nothing to do.
This experiment is an extreme example, but we learn from our daily lives that people tend to choose to do things they don’t need to do, even if some things are painful. Think of friends who run marathons or work out in the gym, doing far more than they need to stay healthy and fit. And those who travel long distances, cross the ice to reach the poles of the Earth, or sail around the world at sea, do not choose life easily.
Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto in Canada calls this the “paradox of effort”. Sometimes we choose a simple path and try to do as little as possible, but at other times we cherish it even more if we have to make considerable effort. The inner pleasure stake of hard work brings us so much happiness that we give up taking shortcuts. We may spend hours pondering difficult crosswords rather than using search engines to find answers.
We learned to do this at a very young age. When we are children, experience and persuasion tell us that hard work pays off; This is called “acquired diligence”.
On the Indonesian island of Flores, there is a Crimeuto volcano, and its craters have formed a colorful tricolor lake. These lakes change color every few years, and the scene is mysterious and spectacular. As backpackers make their way to the top of mount Klimutu, they find a helipad not far from the viewing area, where wealthy tourists probably land. But these rich people are not envious, will they enjoy the lake like a climber? Probably not.
The cable or cable car can reach the summits of many of the world’s greatest peaks, but for climbers, they would rather spend the night on steep rocky surfaces at the risk of frostbite than take the tour route.
Behavioral economist George Lowenstein has written a paper on the behaviour, entitled “Because It Is There”, which borrows the famous British explorer George Mallory. Gwenstein explains that humans simply can’t resist the opportunity to achieve goals and control situations, even if they don’t.
Even if you personally don’t agree with the excitement that mountaineers get from climbing the mountain, most of us will agree with the Ikea effect, which makes people more interested in homewares that they assemble themselves.
All this means that lying on the couch watching TV is just one way to pass the time while we’re at home and isolated. Some people might think that a few weeks of idleness is fun, but in fact it can also be a distraction for us. Mandatory extended rest periods, unless they are sick or physically in need of rest, do not make us feel relaxed, but will make us uneasy and irritable. We need to find a way to replicate as much rhythm and balance as possible in our normal life during isolation.
Therefore, it is important to exercise, set yourself tasks, and do things that require effort and have some difficulty. We should all look for activities or experiences that can promote “flow of the heart” – from the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow of The Heart: The Best Experience Psychology that Masters Are Studying” (Flow: The Psychology of The Optimal Experience). These activities, such as painting, gardening, or puzzles, allow us to immerse ourselves so that we can’t notice the passage of time and stop worrying about other things.
In normal times, most people don’t pay enough attention to rest. Therefore, in the special period of the new coronary pneumonia outbreak, if we can, we should take more rest and bring a more balanced rhythm between rest and busyness into our lives after returning to work. We will find that humans are not naturally lazy animals. (Any day)