Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Replacing Apathy with a Lust for Life

Reasons to stay in bed are like reasons to be cheerful. They can be numerous and perfect for robust health and well being. The reason can sometimes be less suited to a happy productive day, instead dragging a person down into a darkening pit of laziness and despondency.

Photo: tuxthepenguin84

Today's article is about replacing apathy with a get up and go attitude. It's literally about getting out of bed or off the couch. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek but when you've lived with someone (or you are someone) who experiences apathy, then it may prove useful.

I think we all have ideas about what apathy is. In the past I estimate I've 'wasted' days, weeks, months maybe years because of apathy. I have very few regrets because the past is where it is, behind me and there is nothing I can do about that. This present moment and the future is better served by my energy.

Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care. Jimmy Buffett

The first part is about helping yourself and the second part is helping others remove apathy. I've purposefully not covered areas like diet, nutrition, sleep and uses of psychoactives like coffee, alcohol and other drugs. I've aimed for a simple approach that may be useful to people in creating a direction and then launching themselves into it. It's worked recently for a friend's partner and it worked for me recently too. You have to be willing to change and recognise a need for it. Otherwise it is not time well spent.

“My generation's apathy. I'm disgusted with it. I'm disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whining about for years.” Kurt Cobain

Helping Yourself: Replacing apathy with a lust for your life
  • Take heart: the belief you have about staying in bed, sits beside the belief you have about getting up and into enjoying your day. The right one has yet to be brought forward to brighten your feelings and propel you onward.
  • When you're in bed and can't be bothered to get up yet, do the following: Picture all the best moments from your recent memory. Any moment or event that made you laugh or smile and feel good. Put them side by side in your imagination and run through them. Remember each one with a bright, lively quality. Then choose one or more that you will like to repeat for real today.
  • The funny thing is the body will usually follow the voice in your mind, whether it's uplifting and passionate or dull and depressing. So take care about what you say and how you say it. Say something wonderful to yourself.
  • Consider one thing, act or goal you will really love to do today, however small, bizarre or achievable (that avoids being apathetic in bed). Make it a vivid, colourful, life size experience on the inside. Feel your whole body move with this. Imagine the results of doing that thing and how you and others will benefit from it. Then get up and do something like it.
  • The truth is that this moment, only in the present moment, is real and is where your thoughts, desires and intentions can be most usefully guided. While you're in bed or slouching on the couch refusing to embrace the day consider this: too many limited thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow make you a muppet and not a master.
  • Learn to consume in the present rather than be consumed from the past.
  • You know the phenomena when you're in bed and a song you don't really like starts playing in your head? Well, change the track just like you would on a sound system. Choose a blazing track to get you excited and up.
  • It's your thoughts and feelings that power you into the day not the material wealth or lack of it you have around you.
  • Just be grateful that you have the opportunity to indulge in apathy. Such indulgence means you also have space to gather more beneficial opportunities toward you. Just get up and discover how easy they are to find.

I've not suffered from 'can't be bothered to get out of bed' syndrome since I was in my teens. I do sometimes experience 'can't be bothered to do anything productive, now I'm out of bed' syndrome. I know exactly what apathy is like, and there is very little to like about it. It's not relaxation, it's not recuperation or reflection or healing.

'Apathy is a sort of living oblivion' Horace Greeley

Helping Others: Ideas on turning the apathetic into the athletic (almost)
Firstly, find out if they are feeling healthy. If they are in good health and you decide to encourage them away from the bed or couch, do so in a way that aims for a positive response. That's if you can get to speak with them.

Being cajoled by someone else into an effort of enthusiasm, is like trying to electrically jump start your car when the tank is empty. Great questions to avoid: Why are you still in bed? What are you doing in bed? Why haven't you got out of bed yet?

1. Ask them if they are well and healthy.

2. Ask them if they are happy and refreshed after a long sleep.

3. Enquire about whether they are looking forward to anything special this day.

4. Engage them about that special something or suggest something they may find of interest.

5. Discuss with them what you will be doing today and ask their opinion on something. Get them intellectually and emotionally engaged. Continue to build upon this. Ask their opinion on more things and sound interested. You want them to feel better and motivated toward something (at least getting out of bed and avoiding the couch).

6. If they are obviously unenthusiastic, begin artfully using their tired, lazy inflections as you speak with them and gradually build in enthusiasm. Then engage them with useful questions to to help move their energy in the right direction.

7. A well directed bucket of cold water. It's cruel to be kind all the time.

8. Race into the room in boundless excitement screaming you've won the lotto.

9. Be warned even the most willing people can sometimes be unwilling to get out of bed for anything. Placate your frustrated ego by calmly telling yourself 'it's just another amazing facet of human nature.'

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings. Helen Keller

Now you've read my current approach to removing apathy both for yourself and helping others replace theirs with something better. Tell me your experiences of overcoming apathy or how you helped others to do so. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Thanks for reading



  1. What a great, inspiring post! I feel like I am completely ready to overcome any apathy in my life. I love the details in this post and the way you broke it down for the reader. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for such a glowing comment.
    I'm really pleased you find it useful. I like to think it's practical and fun.


  3. Good article, nice tips.

    Especially liked the lotto one. Although if I were your hubby I'd probably keep gettin the blood flowing by beating the hell out of you.

  4. Haha, it's good to know we have choices that can include extreme action when necessary.

    Glad you liked the article. Thanks for your comments.

  5. This is great! I needed it. Living and dealing with chronic illnesses can sometimes lead to a state of apathy, but I think you have to try to do your best--not what everyone expects of you--but your best.