I met a friend for coffee the other day. I, of course, rushed in 5 minutes late, all flustered and bursting to tell the "story" of how my morning had gotten away from me. It sounded something like this "TRAFFIC! blah blah blah DOG! blah blah blah SPILLED COFFEE! blah blah blah". My energy can only be described as frenetic. So here I am, showing up to see a close friend I haven't seen in months and I rush in with my hair on fire requiring her to spend the next 20 minutes trying to put me out.
After she assures me that I'm ok and listens to me recount my morning in every self-indulgent detail she asks, "How are you?"
'BUSY!" comes my immediate response. What a conversation starter. I begin our long-overdue coffee date by making her feel like she is a burden, as if this time spent with her comes at the cost of something important that I should be doing instead.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? How many times have you called a friend only to have them answer the phone sounding annoyed by the disruption. Or maybe it is you that is always in a hurry to get somewhere or rushing through a conversation. Missing the opportunity to have a quick chat with a neighbor because "I'm sorry but I'm in a rush". Pushing the kids out the door with harshness instead of hugs. Impatiently tapping our feet in line at the grocery store. Driving too fast while talking on the phone and changing the radio station while eating a burrito (that one was me...but like...
weeks um...years ago).
Life was not meant to be spent frantically rushing, perpetually busy. I left my corporate job and started my own business so that my time would be my own. So that I could set my own schedule, enjoy my family, do what I loved. To live at a more intentional, leisurely pace where I could be present with the people and activities that I loved the most. I wake up every day feeling so utterly thankful of the life I have but yet I can still manage to "busy" myself to exhaustion. Oh and guess what goes with exhaustion? Impatience and irritability, hello my old friends.
I believe with absolute certainty that being busy is a choice There are, of course, things we really should do, yes. And there are those of us in a stage of life that is much more busy than others (cheers to you mothers of small children!) But overall - the "busiest" people I know are 100% self-created. Including myself.
Busy has become a chronic societal disease. We compete over our busyness and wear it as a badge of honor. When in reality, it is draining the joy out of our lives. Being "busy" is used as a tool for avoidance. If you are "busy" you can't deal with your struggling marriage, or the fact that you aren't taking care of your body. Being busy is an excellent way to distract yourself from having to deal with your feelings of loneliness, anger or fear. If you are busy you can't be expected to take the next step with that business you wanted to start, or that book you wanted to write or that conversation you've been meaning to have. Being busy also allows us to create a false sense of identity. A busy person gets a certain amount satisfaction from being "so productive" by checking things off their to-do list (no matter how menial), not to mention that extra dose of self-importance that they are the only one that can do "all the things". Busy is also a handy excuse to use when you lack commitment or follow through or the ability to say no to something you didn't want to do in the first place; "I was too busy to make it to the party" or "I'm too busy to return that phone call".
What are we all so busy doing? What has got us all so wound up we can't we make eye contact with the person we are speaking to, can't put down our phones, listen to our partners, play a game with our kids, or dream about a different future for ourselves.
Being busy, rushing around from thing to thing and person to person - self-detonating explosion after explosion - keeps us in a state of reaction. There is no intentionality, no opportunity for dreaming, goal setting, proactivity. We run around in a fluster and become sloppy with our emotions. A rushed life also tends to be an unconscious life. Who wants their obituary to read "I don't know what they did but they sure were busy".
Busy allows us to eat unconsciously, sit at a desk for 8 hours without moving, avoid connection with others and then sooth ourselves with alcohol, tv or other distractions because the day was "so crazy busy and we deserve a break".
I was stuck deep into this super unhealthy cycle of busyness for a long time. Now I have some sure fire ways to keep busy at bay. I take time every morning to sit and pray and journal. To just be still. To set an intention for my day. To listen for any instruction from above. I also spend this time REMOVING things from my to-do list. This is the absolute best habit i have adopted over the last 3 years and it has changed my life dramatically. Removing items that may appear to be necessary but are, in fact, distractions to doing the things that actually matter based on your priorities.
I hope everyone has some sort of daily ritual that allows them to ground and re-center themselves, and if you are just "too busy" then you probably need it the most.