Idle Hands Are The Devils Workshop

I may not be a follower of any religion, but I believe there is wisdom in many teachings, if we use our mind to find it. In this article, we will explore a real life example of how this saying leads to happiness or depression.

The ‘devil’ is depression. Anyone who is familiar with this state can tell you that it is like a demon who they cannot control or avoid. It pops into the mind and takes over, making you helpless to do anything to fight and remove it. Today, I would like to give you the weapon to defeat this devil.

What I will say in this article is not a cure for everyone, depending on your life and situation it may or may not help you, but I feel comfortable to say that it cannot hurt to try, so why not see what happens.

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits in finding a profound lesson in what seems to be a simple or irrelevant phrase is the process of opening your mind in order to find what you normally would not see due to your opinions.

There are two fellows who I work with, let’s call them Jim and Bob, who exemplify a value in the old phrase about idle hands which I would like to share.

Jim is a very hard working fellow, has his own little business and works 7 days a week if he can get enough work. Bob does very little work, just a few hours a week to make a subsistence living under the excuse that he has to do his spiritual practices and getting a job would ‘kill him’.

Jim is energetic and positive about his future, he sees clearly that he will be able to retire by age 40 and enjoy whatever pursuits interest him for the rest of his life. Bob is depressed and feeling hopeless for his future.

Both our friends feel that there is some sort of spiritual point to life, and seek that awakening so they can find deeper meaning. Jim is working towards earning the ability to have that freedom to explore it in any way, via meditation or travel and study. Bob thinks that avoiding involvement in the normal activities of life is the path to freedom but is finding himself falling deep into depression instead.

I myself started with nothing financially and was working since the age of 13, part time until I finished high school and then full time 7 days a week doing three jobs, constantly busy. I retired at 29 to devote myself to a life of meditation as my desire was and still is to discover the reason for our existence and end the day to day sufferings of being human.

A funny thing happened to me when I retired to the life that should be an ideal peaceful existence living in a beautiful house in the rocky mountains, a totally perfect environment. Based on my experience and the observation of hundreds of people through the years, I would like to show how a simple view of life can make a big difference in your emotions.

When I retired, I became depressed, big time. I was so happy when I was active, although the stress, frustrations and pressures of owning and running eight companies seemed to be a problem, when that was gone and I was free to meditate, the emotional results were quite the opposite. Idle hands indeed gave the ‘devil of inactivity’ a very well equipped workshop.

There is the explanation of cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone, a chemical created by the brain delivering a similar effect as morphine when a person is under stress, but that wears off in time. My depression lasted four years, the years of inactivity.

Although the drug manufacturers and psychiatrists will not like me for saying this but, forget the drugs, forget the expensive therapists, or at least put them aside to do a little test.

Never take the advice of someone who will profit from your loss.

Get active. Find work, get busy with things or work that involves other people in some way, make money, the more the better because the more money you make, the more you are worth.

I am not saying we should chase money for money’s sake or that a persons value is based on their money, but the reality is that the way you will feel about yourself, if you are depressed, can be related to how other people treat you. If you are paid a lot of money, then people value you, and this may increase your own sense of value. Aside from that, the more money you have, the more things you can do, and that equates to freedom.

There is nothing more depressing than being in a prison. If you have no money, you are effectively in a prison, a limitation of what you can do, for example you are in the prison of the town you live in because you do not have the money to travel. Your prison may not have bars, but it certainly has boundaries. The mind is not stupid, it sees what is there even if your physical eyes do not.

If you are busy and your mind is so occupied with your work which is rewarding both emotionally and financially, the devil has no freedom to play around, you have placed it in its box. Just remember, as soon as you give it a chance, like Jack, it will jump right out of the box and scare the happiness right out of you.

Get busy, stay busy, take 30 minutes a day to meditate if you feel that is a good thing, spend an hour or two on physical exercise a few times a week if not every day, balance your life.

Just remember that balance is not necessarily an equal amount of time on each thing, but just that there is a bit of everything you need.

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6 Responses to Idle Hands Are The Devils Workshop

  1. Ajay February 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    Thanks for another great article…

    I need to think deeply on this line:-

    “Never take the advice of someone who will profit from your loss.”


    • David Samuel February 11, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      People like lawyers who make more money by giving you bad advice that will get you into longer negotiations or going to court, can never be trusted, that is obvious. But sometimes even a loving parent gives the advice to the child that it is better to stay in their home town and study rather than explore the world, is profit for the parent who has the child near, but loss for the child who missed out on learning and opportunities of life. There are many ways to profit and lose other than money.

  2. Chrystal Ashford February 11, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    So it is important then not to just settle for any job but to have a long term vision to work towards getting a specialty job or learn some skills necessary to work up to a higher position, since if you are paid a lot of money, and if you have some useful skills better than many, then people value you, and this may increase your own sense of value.

    • David Samuel February 12, 2014 at 3:38 am #

      Yes, that is right. You have to feel valuable in order to value yourself. I know some people say you have to love yourself or value yourself regardless of what you do or know, but the reality for the majority of people is that we have to have or be or be able to do something of quality or value and be recognised for that before we can feel strong and confident. Let’s deal with reality for the majority rather than dreams for exceptions.

  3. Ethan March 23, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    David – Thanks for writing this. I really appreciate your experience and perspective. I recently took myself out of my career to care for my father who was in declining health. I recently eulogized him after his long struggle with idiopathic liver disease. I’m 35, single, and have not yet returned to full time employment.

    I searched the web for the history of the wisdom “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings” I’m not religious, but the religious text in this case carry some solid advice about human nature. Depression came creeping into my life as I backed away from my career, and I’m now working to get back to full employment.

    How do you keep yourself busy now-a-days? Still living up in the mountains? I’m an extrovert, and don’t do well with isolation, but even if you are far off the beaten path, the internet can provide connection with people near and far. I suspect for my personality, I’ll be served well in the future by continuing to stay busy and in the company of others.

    • David Samuel March 24, 2015 at 12:23 am #

      Hello Ethan,
      Life comes and life goes, that is nature. I hope you are accepting and dealing with it, although I know it is very difficult and makes one reconsider ones life when a close one passes away. What is the point of life if we just leave one day? It is good to reflect on but not avoid life when faced with this.
      To be honest, it was a terrible thing for me to go into isolation. I am also an extrovert and going against ones nature is not a mentally healthy thing to do. We must all live according to our nature.

      No, the internet will not suffice for face to face contact. I see our world deteriorating because we live on computers and phones instead of physical contact, just sitting next to a live person in a coffee shop full of people is enough for that contact. Of course, being in a tiny village in Philippines and writing to you sure is a great benefit of the internet!

      I have long since left the mountains, from there was NY, Montreal, Australia and New Zealand, now I live in Malaysia.
      New Zealand was also too quiet which is why I moved to Malaysia, at least one reason, to get more active.
      I travel often and am today in Philippines. In this way I meet people as I travel who need some advice and I can help where I can.
      I am in a different position to most people, having achieved my freedom and living in a way that I am free to go anywhere anytime, as I am needed.
      You must find what you are good at. This is very different than finding what you love. Yes, they may be the same thing, but they may not.
      Often, people resist what they are good at because they think they should follow what they love, according to the new age thoughts. But it is rare that a person finds happiness in this self centred pursuit of happiness.
      We must find the true nature of our character and personality, what is our natural ability, which for some could be driving the garbage truck, just to make a striking example of what I mean that is clear, because some people really are not cut out for more. Yet those transport truck drivers, a friend of mine is one, could be very happy people as they are living a life suited to their nature.
      As a Zen monk told me when I was at his monetary in Japan; “Climb your mountain, not another persons mountain, you must climb your mountain.”
      What is your mountain? Can you spend months and climb Everest or, a 200 foot hill and then spend your time doing something else.
      Accepting your nature and living in a way and place that is suitable for that, then you may find what you love to do, or you may find you love what you are doing.
      Feel free to write again any time.

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