“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” —Socrates
I’ve made the conscious decision to live a simple, mindful, and focused life of deep purpose. Even with an intentionally slower pace of life however, I’m often baffled by the speed of which each new day whizzes by. I’m not sure if my perception of time is warped or if things are genuinely speeding up. What I do know is that the summer of 2015 has come and gone…and I have no idea where it went.
This got me thinking about the content for September’s blog post. I chose to not write a post last month because other projects took priority. (Notice my language in the previous sentence. This is a prompt for this month’s post).
If there’s one word in today’s culture that has a profoundly irritating effect on me, that word is, “busy”; the coveted cultural badge of honor that perversely defines our self-worth.
Notice that I didn’t say that I was too “busy” to write a blog post last month. Rather, I owned it. I chose to focus on other projects that felt more important. That doesn’t imply that I negate the efficacy of this blog however. It means that I chose to not send out a half-assed effort from a hurried sense of obligation. My intention is to always provide quality content, but never at the expense of personal balance. August was full. A blog post could wait.
So why is it that busy bugs me so much?
Because cloaked in the illusion of self-importance, busy is no more than an inflated word for distracted.
I can hear it now. The deafening cries of the busy addicts, “But, but, but…I really AM busy! I have a job, I have kids, I have a mortgage, I have bills to pay, I have blah, blah, blah ____________ (fill in the excuse blank)“. This implores me to ask, what exactly is busy? You see, bees are considered busy, but bees are essential for life. Bees conduct their lives with strategic, methodical, focused intent – and a deep sense of purpose. My question is this: are you busy like a focused bee, or are you busily distracted from purpose?
In a world where mass distraction runs rampant (iPhones, texting, email, Facebook, Twitter (and all of their “social” ilk), tv, media, mindless activities, etc), the correlation between busy and disconnected cannot be denied. Sadly, culture’s response to busy is the creation of more distracting items, apps, and social media to “manage” our busy lives. The net end result: more distraction to fuel our perpetual busyness.
Sometimes I wonder, have we really regressed to the point where we allocate four minutes for workouts, gulp down the fastest of “foods”, hack at our sleep, and employ techno-apps for meditation (oh the irony)? Do we really have no time to nurture friendships, relationships…ourselves?
When we proclaim our busyness, we’re breathless, scattered, disenfranchised, fragmented, stressed-out, anxious, disoriented, unfocused, frustrated, and out of control. We’ve derailed from life – victims to the incessant chatter in our culturally conditioned minds to do, do, do.
But busy is bullshit! Its a lame-ass excuse for not living authentically, passionately, compassionately, and purposefully. Busy feeds a frenzied, consumptive external world at the expense of our focused, authentic inner world.
Most people never realize the myth of busy until it’s too late. On the deathbed of a loved one, incapacitated by illness, or in the face of their own mortality. Only then does the importance of busy dissolve into rapid oblivion.
Busy is not a worthy pursuit, it’s a disservice to the soul.
Our language is powerful. When we mindlessly belch out the “busy” excuse, we program our subconscious minds to ensure this reality. But let’s get real about busy shall we?
- Busy implies that we are victims to our lives. Life is an ongoing series of choices. This begs the question, who are you choosing to be?
- Busy separates us from all that really matters. Meaningful relationships, purpose, authentic emotions, silence, peace, joy, transformative action, life, and love.
- Busy perpetuates selfishness. No time for the soul equals no time for what matters. No time for what matters equals a wasted life. Nobody benefits from a wasted life.
- Busy disembodies us. When “I’m busy” becomes the default answer to, “how are you”, we short-circuit our intuition, our emotions, and the voice of our heart – all of which express through the wisdom of the body.
- Busy prevents us from passion, presence, and purpose. Focus directs us, busy distracts us.
- Busy is numbing. Expanding on point #4, busy prevents us from feeling what is real. When we’re too busy to experience the depth of our emotions, we cannot connect to who we truly are.
- Busy is addiction. By foregoing quiet, idle time, we push for more and more at the expense of simple things like adequate sleep, meaningful relationships, movement, and mindful eating. Busy is the reckless isolation from health and happiness.
- Busy is exhausting. It leads to stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout. Life is not a race, it’s a delicate balance between being and doing.
- Busy shrouds low self-worth. Under the guise of busy, we believe we’re worthy. But who do we believe we are when we stop?
- Busy traps us in scarcity. No matter how much we do in a day, life will never be perfect. By continuously spinning our wheels doing, we never realize the richness of each new moment.
- Busy kills presence. Ever try to have a meaningful conversation with someone who identifies with busy? Personally, I feel a deeper connection with ants.
The only level playing field that we all share is the 24 hours in each new day. We have the choice to mindlessly fill our days with frivolous activities, or we can choose to mindfully engage with the purpose of life…to leave the world a better place (including our own world).
Leaving the treadmill of busy is as easy as being honest with yourself.
Here’s how to ditch busy and reclaim your life:
- Tell yourself the truth. What are you avoiding? What are you afraid of? What prevents you from slowing down? If you feel more anxious than peaceful, scattered than focused, empty than fulfilled, isolated than connected, or deprived than nurtured, busy has ravaged your soul.
- Stop doing, start being. It doesn’t take a PhD to understand the benefits of slowing down. A quiet mind is the gateway to profound inspiration, problem-solving, and creativity.
- Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. People-pleasing squashes authenticity. “No” is a complete sentence that requires no further explanation. BAM!
- Feed your soul. Read an empowering book, meditate, spend time in nature, be creative. Slow down. Stop!
- Delegate and ask for help. It’s not that hard. Yeesh. Most people love to help others out. If they don’t, it’s time to take a critical look at those relationships.
- If you have kids, let them be. Stop filling their time with endless activities. Let them learn to be alone, amuse themselves, dream, and be creative. This empowers connection, empathy, and self-reliance.
- Turn off the tv, iPhone, Facebook, etc. Better yet, get rid of it all. I haven’t owned a tv since 1995. I’ve never owned an iPhone (or “Smart” phone for that matter) and I no longer waste time on social media. Instead, I nurture real relationships. My life has never been better!
- Set aside sacred time. An hour or more each day to fulfill your dreams. Write that book, create that workshop, retreat, learn new things, stretch your comfort zone. Always move in the direction of your heart.
- Breathe. Fully, evenly, deeply.
- Feel, heal, and be real. Enough said!
Life is short. Before you know it, your last breath will be knocking on the door. Will you have lived, laughed, loved, and served in ways that enhance your world…the world?
As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” It’s time to put a spoke in the wheel of busy, savor the delicious wine of life, and engage with the world in a way that invigorates your soul.
The world is desperate for people who have come alive. You are worth it!