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Is everybody around you constantly busy, including yourself? Especially yourself? It’s become like the most commonly used phrase nowadays. We started to look maddening, as if injected with cocaine/ecstasy. This trend rocketed sky-high before we even realized what’s happening and now everyone is busy. Even those who don’t have jobs or kids.

To be honest, I wasn’t fully aware of this worryingly growing trend until hearing it from people I least expected, leaving me wondering. Busy doesn’t mean going to a 9 to 5 job and meeting friends after work, but people use it as a default phrase. And are they boasting or complaining really?

Why is this? How did it start?

These questions were on my mind for a while and then I stumbled upon this beautiful essay by Tim Kreider for the New York Times, who tackled the issue wonderfully: “The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it”.

And as is usual the case with truth, the answer is rather simple: the busyness fills our emptiness, attempting to make us feel important.  The reasoning behind this is that you matter because who else can reply to the hundreds of emails every day, who else can do “your” job, who else will hold the family together? This sounds like a modern way of dealing with ancient anxieties. We’ve all heard/seen examples of someone burying himself/herself with work to keep the mind occupied, preventing it to deal with the real problems, whatever they may be: divorce, break-up, children, health etc. And this can sometimes be a healthy way indeed. Sometimes.

But what about inner peace? Where is it in this whole story? Is it possible to feel inner peace while doing five things at once at all hours, checking off page-long to-do lists, doing a dozen different things every day? If yes, please share with the rest of us who’re looking.

As for me, I find myself in all categories: with the ones who self-impose classes/activities making myself voluntarily busy, thirst for more knowledge and insight and self-improvement, with those who do take the time to be with their friends/family and share special and non-special moments together, and unfortunately with those working a few jobs in order to meet ends, leaving me exhausted, dead on my feet. Wanting to keep up with everything is not what I aim for anymore. In the last few years, I’ve realized what the things that matter are and keeping up with everything coming my way is not included. And we shouldn’t feel guilty if the rest don’t understand. We alone are enough.

Go against the flow and try not to be busy for some time. Try to be available and say you’re available and feel available. Life passes by us; don’t be too busy to see it. Maybe we can make this a new trend. What do you say? 

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10 thoughts on “Is Busyness the Answer?

  1. I wonder if staying busy is simply American, or at least Western? From what I know of other cultures, there are more communal activities. I blame television, air conditioning, and garage doors. I’m also intrigued by our focus on necessity. Things “must” be done. We “need” to paint. We “have to” clean up the office. Really? Or are we simply afraid of being judged if we don’t?

    • It may be Western, but quickly spreads everywhere I believe. We are afraid of being judged, but society pressures have always been there, so as long as we identify the problem it’s one step closer to find a solution for it, wouldn’t you agree? On the other hand, I can also see more and more people trying to escape the hectic life in the city and create a peaceful nest for themselves, giving up on the chase for a career, money and material things. Busyness can be good if it’s for the right reasons. I’m examining mine. 🙂

  2. There’s a proverb in Hindi that translates to “If you’re busy, you’re happy.” It highlights something important. People expect too much from happiness or inner peace. Analyzing the crap out of life is enough to depress almost anyone. Doing things that you like or things that will lead to things you like is the closest to happiness (which, if you ask me, is just a continuum of pleasant feelings) one can be.

    Cracked has a nice article on happiness.

    I think being busy anesthetizes us from some of the depressing aspects of life. What say?

    • There’s a lot of truth in that analyzing life depresses people, but if we keep ignoring what bothers us we’re never going to be in peace with things. As with everything, there’s a good and a bad side, but if we keep ourselves constantly rushed we’re missing on life, on enjoying small and all-important things, on spending time with people who matter to us. Great article on Cracked – thanks for sharing and stopping by Bharat. I highly appreciate input leading to more discussion.

    • We all do wear that badge constantly and a shift in our attitude/mindset is more than welcome. It worries me that life is passing by, while we’re doing our things and not noticing the small things, which often make the big picture. Thanks for sharing the link Katie. I’m on it! 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing that, Sophie. I’m going to have to check out that essay because it sounds great. I noticed some time ago that I was always saying how busy I was, but in truth I wasn’t that busy at all. At least, there was nothing of supreme importance that couldn’t be moved around. I think you’re right that we use busyness to fill a void. For a while, I tried keeping myself as busy as possible to avoid thinking about the troubles that I was facing in my life. That sure backfired when I had downtime, though. I think it’s important that we all take some time out of our schedules to just sit and enjoy life. It’s those moments that make the journey worth it.

    • It’s an excellent essay and I literally felt like someone reading my mind. We’re all doing that ‘oh I’m so busy’ these days, but it’s a modern invention and there’s a reason for it. We need to locate it on time, so that we can work on finding a solution. Yes, enjoying life is what we are given and we should devour it. The small things are actually the big things, right?

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