The Societal Glorification of Being Busy


Are you the type of person who never feels like you have enough time? Do you feel like you have to rush just to fit it all in? Do you get overwhelmed sometimes just thinking of everything you need to do?

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. Always having something on your plate is seen as a good thing. When someone asks you the question, “How are you doing?”, is you typical go-to answer “Oh, I’ve been so busy!”? I’ll raise my hand and say that this has been my answer many, many times.

Has anyone ever praised you for taking a break and sitting a few rounds out every once in a while? I didn’t think so, which is not okay.

I’m trying to change my habit of automatically responding to questions such as the one I just mentioned and automatically saying that I am busy. I don’t think it’s a respectable answer. If someone asks how I’m doing, I believe I should tell them how I’m doing and what has been going on in my life. Plus, I think that always being busy, whether physically (as in running around everywhere) or mentally (as in a running to-do list in your head), causes stress. Stress that is completely unnecessary and not healthy.

Of course our bodies are equipped to handle stress. Our sympathetic nervous system kicks into gear and our “fight or flight” hormones such as cortisol are released. In an ideal world, the stress is short-lived and after the threat has been diminished, our parasympathetic nervous system takes over, which helps our body “rest and digest” and get back to a balanced, calm state.

But if we are constantly busy and not willing to take the time to give ourselves a break, our body never gets to rest. It is in a constant state of red alert. Over time this can lead to digestive issues (ever noticed that your digestion is a bit wonky during stressful times?), adrenal fatigue, trouble sleeping, and a whole host of other issues. Prolonged chronic stress is like the first domino that can knock a whole bunch of other dominoes down and cause a chain reaction in the body. Not to mention that you will also probably be irritable and not a fun person to be around.

So how can we change all of the busy in our lives? It starts with examining our relationship with time.

Recently I have been doing just that and am focusing on how my thoughts around time impact my life. My main thoughts around time are past-based or future-based. Past-based thoughts are typically regrets about something that I chose to do or did not do. Future-based thoughts are dreams of various paths my life could take and what I should/should not being doing right now to put me on the path that I’d most like to go.

Focusing on past-based and future-based thoughts causes me a lot of stress. I tend to get upset about things from my past and overwhelmed about all of the things that I feel that I need to do to achieve my future vision. But these types of thoughts keep me from truly being present in my life today. And today is what matters. We can only change what we are doing right now.

When past-based thoughts rear their ugly head, I try to remember that the past has happened. It is done and cannot be changed. We can only learn from our experiences and let them guide us on the journey that is life. Our past has shaped us into the people we are today. It is a necessary step to get where we are meant to go in life.

And the future? Well, it’s just the future love and there is nothing you can do about that. Worrying about the future is a waste of time and will only take us away from the present. Believe me, if somebody could predict the future we would have found that out by now.

So now I am working to focus on living my life today and enjoying every moment of it. Making time for work and fun and everything in between. Stepping away from the “busy” paradigm and doing what fulfills me and makes me happy. I believe that if I do that, then the future will unfold just as it’s meant to be.

What is your relationship with time?

Photo credit: Image courtesy of kylesteed on flickr