The most common answer I receive to my general “How are you?!” greeting is, “Good, but so busy….”
This seems to be the default answer to this common greeting from people from all walks of life. Whether you are a mom with small children or working in a corporate office (or both), “busy” has become a regular part of our lives and personal identities.
We have become a society that wears busyness like a badge of honor. If you are busy, you are important. If you are busy, you are needed. If you are busy, your life is full and complete.
We have gotten to the point where we will secretly judge those who are ‘not busy’. We equate non-busyness with laziness or selfishness. The idea of sitting still, taking time off, or going on vacation ‘too frequently’ is seen as both self-centered and wasteful.
There is an unwritten rule that if you have the time, you should be filling it with self-improvement, service or engaging more with your family or community. The days of sitting at home or spending time in a place of ‘boredom’ are few and far between. The to-do lists are too long, and the needs are too great!
If we are not busy working or serving, we are busy entertaining ourselves or our children. When children find themselves ‘stuck’ in a place where they have nothing-to-do (such as a long car ride), they often immediately look to their parents for outward stimulus to keep them entertained. A quieted mind is a foreign thing.
We go and go and go until we can’t go any further and we collapse into a state of ill health and exhaustion….and then we are further judged for not being strong enough or resilient enough to just keep moving.
These practices and attitudes fall in sharp contrast to cultures that understand the value of slow time. In many ancient cultures the idea of cycles that included seasons of busyness followed by seasons of rest was forefront in their traditions. These cycles are still a big part of many ‘non westernized’ cultures. These cycles mimic the natural cycles found in nature of planting, growing, harvesting and resting.
We need to get back to a place of balance where seasons of rest, and even boredom are celebrated instead of judged or feared. We need to separate ‘who we are’ from ‘what we do’ so that when we cease from our work, we don’t cease to have an identity.
If you find yourself caught up in the identity of busyness and unable to detach, you need to begin by affirming the following statements of truth so that you can start to bring balance back into your life.
I am no longer hiding behind busyness; I am embracing my time and my self-care
Wholeness is knowing that I am enough, no matter what society says
I create space to work through my emotions rather than bury them under productivity
I am unattached to others perception of me, I am slowing down and listening to my spirit
I am embracing balance and self-care as part of my life’s existence
I set firm boundaries and release the need to please others to my own detriment
When you begin to allow your life to fall back into a natural rhythm of work, play and rest, your physical, mental and spiritual health will improve. You will have time to process and release the events of your week during your time of rest so that they don’t build up and cause overwhelm. You will be able to more easily prioritize what is important and of most value to you.
You will find that when you initially set up boundaries for yourself, it may upset other people’s plans for you. They may judge you or not understand your choices. You need to fully release the need to please others to your own detriment and may find that your circle of relationships and commitments gets much smaller.
This is a good sign that you are falling back into a natural and healthy rhythm of life…
I look forward to a day when becoming ‘less busy’ is a valued goal and the most common response to my “How are you?” question is simply “Really good.”