Why an idle mind is the devil’s playground


Kevin Mangelschots


  • People need to be physically active, or their mind tends to wander off.
  • People who aren’t active have too much time to think.
  • We only think about the biggest issue(s) at a given time.
  • We need to move around to stay mentally and physically healthy.

Why is an idle mind the devil's playground?

  1. A lazy mind means you have time to think

    An idle mind is the devil’s playground because you simply have more time to think if you’ve got nothing on your mind, or if you’re physically inactive. That’s not good, since our bodies are made to move around, and having time to spare allows our mind to wander off.

    To counteract this phenomenon, it’s helpful to stay physically active to keep our psyche off the more stressful things in life. Even doing mundane tasks such as doing the dishes, cleaning the house, and mowing the lawn can be incredibly helpful to stay busy.

  2. An idle mind tends to wander off

    Image of a man sunken in thoughts while sitting on a bench outside.

    An idle mind has all the time in the world. As a result, it’s inclined to start pondering about various things, and often not the good kind.

    Using our imagination is a great thing, and can make for interesting stories. Yet, they can create great tension by employing doom thinking and thinking the worst, due to a potential negativity bias that most people fall victim to.

    That’s why we need to remain busy. Both physically, and mentally. But try to entertain positive thoughts instead of thinking negatively, or the worst all the time.

  3. We tend to think about what’s most essential to our survival

    We can only ponder about so many things at the same time. As a result, we tend to think about what’s most critical to our survival and personal well-being at that very time. That’s likely about the most pressing matters.

    If you’ve got nothing bad going on, then stubbing your toe is the worst thing in the world. However, when you have severe issues that you need to work out, then stubbing your toe for example is only a small, insignificant nuisance.

  4. Negativity bias

    Illustration of the negativity bias depicting how one negative event is experienced more strongly than many positive ones.

    Human beings feel events that we experience as negative much more intensely than we do positive instances. Perhaps it comes as no surprise then that we have a disposition to think the worst, or to evaluate things as being more negative than they truly are. That’s what we call a negativity bias.

    We often suffer more in our imagination than we do in reality. So you shouldn’t automatically think the worst, but rather deal with actuality instead of making yourself mentally ill in your head.

  5. We need to be busy to be physically, but also mentally healthy

    Part of what defines a human being is being capable, and having the will to purposefully move around and physically exert ourselves.

    We know that exercising and being active have antidepressive properties, and that’s only logical when we factor in that working out releases endorphins such as dopamine that make us feel better by improving our mood.

    That’s why everyone, no matter what age category they are, should actively move around and exert themselves physically to the degree that they can comfortably, and safely handle.

    A young person for instance can get away with training intensely multiple times a week by doing let’s say heavy weightlifting and sprinting sessions.

    An older individual isn’t expected to do the same things safe and sound. That would most likely not be possible, or all that beneficial. But doing stuff such as gardening, going for walks, and simply doing the chores at home is a great way to stay moving, and consequently, remain healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” mean?

Illustration of a man scratching their head while holding a yellow question mark.
An idle mind is the devil’s playground, which means that a person who has nothing to do or is nonproductive is more likely to get into trouble. That’s because they have too much time on their hands that they use to ponder too much.
When this starts happening, their mind starts racing to bad places because their psyche isn’t preoccupied enough with other things to do. We need to perform physical movements to be, and feel healthy due to the enjoyment, and personal satisfaction we gain from it.

Who said an idle mind is the devil’s playground?

The quote, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground” originates from the Bible. Yet, it isn’t phrased in that manner, but the meaning is by and large the same.

It’s thought to be written in the Living Bible in Proverbs 16:27 by Kenneth N. Taylor, who wrote that book in 1971. But others have suggested that it stems from Latin.

Symptoms of “an idle mind are the devil’s playground”

The quote, “idle hands are the devil's workshop” written in white letters on a black background.

An idle mind is the devil’s playground has many synonyms such as:

  • An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
  • An idle mind is the devil’s playground.
  • Idle hands are the devil’s tools.
  • Idle hands are the devil’s playground.
  • Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.
  • Idleness is the devil’s playground.

While the wording is different, the meaning remains the same.

Final takeway

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Being lazy and non-productive will not be beneficial to your overall wellbeing, even though it might feel good at the moment.

Remain physically active to keep your head in check, and to prevent your brain from going haywire. Try to exert yourself physically to the degree you’re capable of, instead of going to the extremes.

The extremes are rarely good, so balance is key in order to thrive in this existence.