When we are running around our busy lives we can feel important, needed, essential…Those feelings make us feel happy—at least they do for me. They make me feel like I am moving and attaining. But, I am beginning to wonder if the chase to be busy is truly just that,—a chase.
This idea occurred to me when I was most recently on vacation. It is funny that I’musing this word because I was actually at a training conference where I was learning all day long. But, something about this time felt unencumbered, free and light. I was learning and, one could argue just as busy as I am when I am at home, but something was different. I could feel the difference in my body, my thoughts and my heart. I was free. But, free of what? I had a full schedule and was also with my family after the training.
Since I was following the schedule of the training, I was following a schedule. I was not creating my own. Turns out that when left to my own devices I chase “busy” like my life depends on it. This chase looks like productivity, efficiency and motivation from the outside, but from the inside it can lead to exhaustion, body pain and anxiety. I was beginning to wonder whether I was addicted to being busy.
Often when talking about addiction, we use the words driven, compelled, and obsessed. When I reflect on my relationship to being busy I realize I can feel the same overwhelming urge to keep moving that I have heard people describe when driven to drink alcohol.
Being busy is highly valued in our society, so no one looks at you and says you need an intervention for being too productive and too busy. So, it is our job, our personal work, to SLOW down. For me this means taking at least three to four vacations a year. Vacations require putting my phone, tablet, computer, pen, and paper down and just being.
Like any withdrawal, the first few days feel uncomfortable with fear and confusion. However, usually around day three, I begin to feel my body and mind settle and by day four I am asking myself why I ever ran around so much.
So, here is my suggestion for you. Notice your personal relationship to being busy. Here’s how:
State the following phrases and see how you feel in your body and mind:
I had so much to get done today and I did it all faster than I thought I would.
I thought last week was busy, this is a new level of busy.
Your reaction to these phrases could be a window into your relationship with being busy. Reflect on your awareness. Take the time to journal or talk to a friend about your realizations – or share them with us in the comments. We’d love to hear!