If you are looking for a new book to read, you are in the right place. This blog post is from a chapter of the Self-help book Dare To Do Nothing by Amy Minty. It was published by TriMark Press on 17.08.2021 and is currently available as an Amazon ebook and a paperback (ISBN-13: 978-1943401888).
Synopsis of Dare To Do Nothing by Amy Minty
We may think that doing nothing goes against all of the teachings of a life well lived; after all, how can one derive satisfaction from having nothing to do? Well, park your boredom at the door. In her new book, Dare To Do Nothing, Amy Minty offers a counter-argument against any urge to become a workaholic: When you do nothing, you have more time for fun! And shouldn’t that be the point? Minty’s book, published by TriMark Press, covers the various over-achiever traps and walks the reader through all the ways to avoid doing actual things. Minty also recounts events in her own life that expand on her beliefs. Would you like to do nothing at work? Covered. Is it important to at least appear busy? Absolutely. Does doing nothing come down to genetics? Read and find out.
Please note that Dare To Do Nothing by Amy Minty is suitable for readers aged 18+ as it does contact some explicit content.
Chapter 16: Ways To Avoid Doing Things
Message: I can’t speak for everyone, but full agendas make me panic. (Granted, these days, I’d give anything to have a full agenda, without it being Zoomed from my living room.) Nor, is the reluctance I feel to meet certain demands a recent phenomenon. Since I can remember, anytime I’ve had something I had to do, the tendency to procrastinate has always been there. Before online banking, the majority of my bills went unpaid, not because I was broke, but because it was such a pain in the butt to write a check and find a stamp. I spent almost my whole life procrastinating before I realized I could avoid doing things completely.
I am a person who suffers from recurring nightmares. My most common nightmare takes me back to my childhood, in which I’ve left it to the last minute to read and learn 1600 pages of World History. (I obviously have some deep-rooted fear of going back to school. School, to the best of my recollection, was just one big building that I visited at random. In college, there was more than one building, but it was the same idea.) This particular dream signifies that I have molded my life around procrastination. I thought everyone felt like I did, but then I went and married Ron Kochman, so I know this not to be the case. (We will try to keep him out of this book as much as possible, but let’s just say for the record, some people don’t procrastinate.) However, for those of us who take stalling to new heights, dodging every day activities in order to do nothing begins at an early age. Which kid ever liked to brush his teeth? Or liked being told to go to bed? A typical child’s life revolves around avoiding school and dodging the doctor and the dentist. Kids are instinctually smart. They complain and do anything in their power to avoid going to places they don’t want to go and doing things they don’t enjoy.
This early learning process continues through high school, at least for us raised in America. We prolong searching for the after-school job and any form of babysitting. To my early chagrin, I was almost a kid with a paper route. Although my father was big on instilling a hard working ethic, he was not keen about the amount of crime in our neighborhood. Basically, I got lucky in my unlucky circumstances. At least I avoided that embarrassment.
After completing high school, avoiding college appealed to me too, but the alternative was working full-time. Working full-time anywhere sounded like a lot of effort. I opted for college out of sheer desperation and my mother’s eagerness for me to appear smart. I thought college would provide an ongoing supply of parties and delay permanent employment by four years. Wrong, again. Tuition, rent, food, transportation, clothing, alcohol, books for my classes – the costs were endless. Obviously, something had to give. After my first year of college, I stopped buying books. What was the point in buying a book you never opened? Sure, my grades weren’t top honors, but who cared as long as I graduated?
The bottom line is paying for college is hard. I was tricked. I went to school and still had to work forty hours a week. Hence, learning ways to avoid doing things became my biggest passion and greatest skill. One I continue to excel at. The truth is, from an early age I hated participating in obligatory duties. I’m sure I was not alone. Finally, I realized there were steps I could take to reduce my participation. I figured out ways around having to do the things I didn’t want to. I have also learned to procrastinate less by simply avoiding an undesirable task altogether.
Being skillful and resourceful can aid you in your mission of avoiding responsibilities, as you learned in the previous chapter. For example, when it’s time to do your taxes, don’t
wait until mid-April to consider your options. Get it out of the way in February while people are running around like morons buying roses for Valentine’s Day. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting you try to make sense of those confusing tax forms. Pay someone to do it. Very simple. No hassle, less procrastination, and it’s done.
The most obvious category associated with chronic avoidance is the routine things we secretly hate doing. Everyone hates something different. For instance, I don’t like to wash dishes. So I rarely dirty them. If you despise something, I strongly urge you not to do it. If it drives you crazy to mow the lawn, don’t! Landscapers can do that for you even if your plot of land is no bigger than your living room. On a weekly basis, it will cost less than maintaining a decent lawnmower.
Sidebar: As adults, I insist you make decisions for yourselves; as kids, we didn’t always have a choice. I grew up in a family that made me do chores. OK − I’m emotionally scarred − I’ll admit it. I don’t know if chores still exist among American families anymore, but I seriously doubt it.
Winter was rough in Massachusetts, and we were the only family in Worcester that still used a hardwood fire to heat our house. Coal was readily available back then; it was just a matter of choice. My father’s choice became another one of my chores. Spending the afternoon piling firewood was a winter constant. I still shiver when I think about it. (I will elaborate more on this
in Chapter 18.)
At some point during sixth grade, my friends and I began experimenting with smoking. All the kids in the neighborhood used to hide their cigarettes down near the bottom of one of our massive woodpiles. Discovery didn’t seem high risk. One would think . . .
One night before supper, my father came across a pack of Lucky Strikes. During the meal, he proceeded to rant and rave about our degenerate high school neighbors hiding various carcinogens on our property. My girlfriend − who happened to stay over for dinner that night − and I had been smoking from that pack all week. We both coughed out our soup at the same time, claiming it was very hot.
I repeat: Do not do things you hate! Find a way around it. Life is too short! You don’t need a reason! Just refuse − it’s your personal right. It all boils down to what you do and what you don’t do. For the most part, excuses are wasted on people, but it makes us feel justified in our actions. Assuming you decide against doing something, you may want to have a reason ready that is believable. Here are some sample future phone calls…
• I’ve been kidnapped . . . No, I wouldn’t joke about this . . . Sorry I won’t be able to make the pickling and canning workshop!
• I had to go out of town. The Smith’s will throw another curry party, won’t they?
• I’m working on an oil painting . . . Yes, they still exist . . . No, if the paint dries, there’s no going back. . . You don’t understand. There won’t be a tomorrow for these seagulls in flight. I’ll catch your opening night the next time around.
• I’m stuck in an elevator . . . I know, these cell phones are great, aren’t they? They work anywhere . . . Ugh, I really hate to miss your daughter’s school play.
• I’m in jail . . . Yes, really, it’s a long story . . . You’re my one phone call . . . Obviously, it’s a misunderstanding . . . no, a bit more serious than that. They think I killed someone. It’s safe to say, I’m going to miss Bob’s surprise party.
You get the drift. Make up anything you want if you feel you need an excuse. Religion is another great alibi (even if you’ve never worshipped in your life). Since religion can be quite competitive, it can provide the perfect rescue. If you have to go to church, you have to go to church. Who on earth is going to argue with that? So people will begin to think you’re a religious zealot, but so what? Who cares? They’ll change their mind when they run into you out on the town,
partying like a rock star. Watching you booze it up, while ripping up the dance floor, will cause them to disbelieve any previous religious excuses that rolled off your tongue. But by
that time it’s too late. You’ve successfully dodged the event you wanted to avoid.
Also, pretending to be a different religion from the specific sacred event you’re sidestepping can free you from the obligatory duty. Example: Claiming Jewish descent, you are now exempt from joining your friends at Midnight Mass. You also won’t have to pretend to enjoy Easter. (There’s only one “bunny” we’ve ever liked anyway, and it’s not the Easter bunny.)
What about lent? That’s the best excuse of all time. You could say you have given up anything for forty days. Some people sacrifice things they actually enjoy in the name of lent. What’s the point of that? God has plenty of unpleasant surprises planned for us as it is. The year 2020 is a perfect example. Haven’t we sacrificed enough?
I may have suggested some effective excuses that aid in our quest to avoid doing things, but telling the truth is another option. When people ask me to join them on the ski slopes in Vail, I say, “No way. I hate skiing.” When they ask me why, I give the real reason. “It’s too cold, and I’m not good at it.” Keep it simple. Another added bonus to telling the truth is they won’t ask you again. All my real friends know I hate period films. And guess what? They still like me even though I won’t sit down and watch The Favourite with them.
Eventually, even the smoothest talker runs out of excuses. It’s even happened to me. Once, I didn’t want to endure a lecture on thoroughbred racehorses, so I said I broke my foot. I then had to arrive everywhere with crutches for the next two months, and the excuse was definitely not worth it. In addition, last minute excuses generally lead to outright lies, and sometimes it’s difficult to remember them all. It’s exhausting to recall what you told whom and when. My suggestion is to remain consistent in your lies in order to avoid confusion down the road.
I’m a terrible liar. Don’t get me wrong, I lie easily, I’m just bad at it. Once upon a time, I told Laurent at Flask that an emergency trip to Spain had come up. (At the time, I didn’t even know where Spain was located on a map of the world. Remember, geography is not my strong suit.) There was a music festival going on at Madison Square Garden, and I was planning to be there every night for a week. The shows were fantastic, and I spent the following few nights after recovering in my local bar. I never thought about Spain once. When I finally went back to work and the staff at Flask asked me how my trip was I said, “Fantastic concerts − yeah.” Realizing my mistake, I followed it up with, “There’s some great live music in Spain.” I had to change the subject very quickly. There’s nothing worse than having to do research to support a lie.
Sidebar #2: While on the subject of lying, my mother and I once made a rather annoying mistake. On a trip to visit my grandparents (on my father’s side), we told them that we didn’t eat dairy products. My grandmother had a habit of force-feeding her family rice pudding and cream-laden dishes all day. As far as her cooking went, she somehow managed to incorporate half-and-half into just about every meal.
However, my grandmother was an extremely sharp woman. It’s actually safe to say she was more astute and smarter than my mother and me combined. So when Sarah Minty and I began slathering butter on our bread and pouring milk in our coffee, we should have known we’d be busted. When the brie and crackers hit the table (our favorite cheese), our gig was officially up. My mother and I learned from our error. We should have specified we were opposed to cream. Consider your excuse or lie from all angles before committing to it.
Temporary situation lies are always better than long-term lies. Had my mother and I not been so daft, we would have had to avoid dairy products around my grandmother for the next twenty years. (More on my mother in the following chapter.) The honest truth, no matter how insensitive it is, is usually better than a long-term lie you have to live with.
This chapter of Dare To Do Nothing by Amy Minty was submitted by the author’s rep and with the permission of the copyright holder.
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