Once upon a time “keeping busy” was the name of the game.
It was “sexy”. It also meant being successful and feeling important. Busyness was fulfilling the void of worthiness and neediness, covering up a life full of doubts, of not being good enough, not strong enough and not made of the right clay. Validating ourselves by proudly piling up things to do. Distracting ourselves from a life passing by as we played a mere role of a bystander. “Busy” – a highly addictive power drug with serious side effects not limited to illusions and detachment from reality, allowance to cling onto denial of all that makes us uncomfortable. Desolately, quite often the very things we take the “busy” pill for, happen to be the valuable ones in life.
While some cultural and social spheres still portray the value of being “on call” 24/7 – always on demand and connected – being busy is not a virtue anymore and it is contributing to alarmingly high rates of mental burnout, overwork and sleep deprivation. With the shift occurring in collective awareness, being busy is not respected any longer as a measurement of success.
Periodic busyness is to be expected as we ride through the various seasons of our lives. However, our compulsion to keep and stay busy has become a revenge against emptiness. Purposeless existence defined by the sound of a ticking clock and a frame of scheduled meetings, calls, and other activities. Perpetuation of self-imposed obligations driven by either our obsessions, ambitions or anxieties only to avoid reality for what it truly is; and in the absence of dismay. This frenzy is not an unavoidable condition of life. It’s something we are repeatedly choosing by complying. Staying preoccupied, completely booked and in demand every hour of the day trying to defeat the trivial meaninglessness of our being.
It is difficult not to wonder what this mass exhaustion is really trying to cover up. I dare to state openly: the lack of confidence in our own capabilities and the constant need for external gratification. The fear of realization that most of what we do, does not matter. However, the pain of admitting it is greater than the cost of living a hectic life. Distracting ourselves form ‘feeling the feelings’ is a definition of weakness. Incapability to sufficiently “manage” the life by diverting our attention from intrinsic values to third-party validation of importance and worthiness. Our ‘needy greedy’ identity which drives to live beyond our means and to prioritize incorrectly, and to hide being uncomfortable with ourselves and the reality of our lives.
Being busy has nothing to do with being productive. It actually shields our dodging of important yet very uncomfortable actions. It restricts professional performance and limits mental capacity by compromising decision-making processes and letting our impulses loose.
Although being busy can make us feel more alive, the state itself is not sustainable in the long term.
“Busy-less” isn’t primarily about slowing down or not working. “Busy-less” is about your job not being the only work you manage to find the time to complete. It’s about freeing yourself up from the oppression and making mindful choices to attain other tentacles of life like family, friends and self-development. Its redefining success on your own terms and creating the life you can be proud of; it’s about discovering what it is truly important and how it serves our highest values. As there is truly no legitimate need to be busy all the time, let’s stop forcing and pressuring one another to live this way.
Disclaimer: This article makes inquiry into busyness for the sake of it and its visible implications. It does not diminish the merits of hard working and being productive or effective.
This article was originally published on Huffington Post.