Chatting recently with my business partner, Will, we started wondering why so many people seem to be obsessed with being busy. Inevitably, of course, there are going to be those days – maybe even weeks – when life is truly busy and crazed. But more often than not, if we sit down and actually look at our circumstances, this does not have to be the case. So why do so many of us feel the need to be busy – to bring chaos where there is none, to fill our days and brains with more than is necessary? And do we truly make ourselves busy, or do we revel in the idea of feeling busy and appearing to the rest of the world that our days are non-stop chains of activity and importance?
We all have acquaintances that lead extremely full, maybe overfull, lives – full-time job, multiple kids, dance, soccer, dinner, cleaning, volunteer work, etc. fill their days. These people are often actually too busy to mention to the world how busy they truly are. But we all probably know a lot more people that talk loudly and at length about how busy they are, while not really being truly busy at all. Instead, they throw their “busy schedules” and “hectic days” out to the world for sympathy, to excuse their inattentiveness or aloofness, to attempt to justify their existence. Not only do we all know others that travel this path, but at some point, we have all been that person. The question is, “Why?” Is there anything so wrong with living a calmer life? With having time for conversation, friends, self-reflection, reading a book, learning something new — for doing absolutely nothing should the spirit so move us? Where is the shame in admitting that you have free time – that you actively pursue and make free-time – and then reveling in it?
I think we should all step back and ask why we’re in such a rush, why we need to fill our time (or pretend to) with activity and why we think of an overbooked life as a positive thing. Instead of seeing those around us with a more serene life as being lazy and needing to fill their time, maybe we should find the time that our less hectic friends are able to make for themselves something to be admired. When you ask someone what they have planned for a day or an afternoon and the answer is, “No plans,” maybe our reaction shod be more of, “Wow, that’s awesome, good for you,” rather than a nervous, “Really, are you going to find something to do?” Don’t feel guilty or “less than” if you can manage to simplify your life and relax as much as possible – be happy and proud that you are one of the fortunate ones!
While the need to be busy may just be in our DNA and isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we should take some time to reflect and make sure that our busy-ness is not interfering with our happiness. If being busy makes you happy, by all means, carry on. If not, effectuate some change in your life and seek the serenity you need to be happy.
On this note, I propose a call to action: Be yourself and live to the fullest. Life is too short to waste it being miserable and unhappy. You may not even realize that you aren’t getting the fullest happiness out of your life, so take some time to evaluate what you actually need to be happy in your own skin. Don’t judge (ourselves or others) when it comes to how we choose to spend our time. Get out there and unapologetically make the life you want to live. Give yourself permission to live more a quiet, yet fulfilling, life. Don’t by into the mass-marketed belief that success and happiness comes from toiling in the rat-race of modern life. You don’t have to buy any special product – no medicine, no toys, no special drinks or foods – to have the life you want. All you need to do is make some time for yourself, don’t feel guilty about it, and really see yourself as you are.
Let’s all try to value time more than “stuff.” And let’s live la dolce vita (the sweet life) as much as possible!
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” ~ John Lennon