The Narcotic called Busy
We carry the word busy like a badge of honor. The New York Times called it a “boast disguised as a complaint” in an article a few years ago. It’s a status symbol that inflates our hubris. The busier we are the better we look and sound. There is admiration for the busy reflected in the question, “How do you do so much?”
But under the layer of the word busy is the addictive trap that by doing more and resting less we are more accomplished. Since busy majors in volume and minors in value, our “importance” is built on shaky ground that can easily cave once our busy bubble bursts due the physical and emotional toll the busy trap exerts on us. We become unable to heal from the self-inflicted wounds created by the fallacy that being busy is the only way to live.
Why have sleep and hobbies become vices?
In our world today, hobbies and sleep are associated with not having enough to do and can be compared to being lazy. It is becoming increasingly rare to get eight hours of sleep. Studies show that we average about 4-6 hours in a 24 hour period. This deprivation of sleep significantly lowers our productivity and actually makes us less adept to handle the pressures of the day. This adds to our increased stress levels creating an unholy alliance of dependence on medication, increased anxiety, inability to process new information, and neglect of self-care. What a shower does for your body, sleep does to your brain. Make a habit of getting at least seven hours of sleep a night. There will be a noticeable difference in your day.
In like manner, hobbies have become a vice that most people see as a waste of time. Our busy lives leave no room for such indulgences. We barely have time to breathe! But it is worth mentioning that hobbies have been proven to enhance quality of life. They provide a way to detach from the whirlwind of our busyness. Hobbies also relax and refresh our minds by engaging in something that reignites our passion and turns off the background noise of the never ending demands of life.
Going against the Flow
In today’s post, I present three counter-cultural ways to assess and reaffirm that being busy is a yoke, not a badge. They will provide an alternative to the rush and dash way of life we are spinning our wheels in. Finally, these three ways will offer a less traveled path to living an essential life. How, you may ask? By trimming away the non-essentials that make us look busy but add no value to our lives. To mind your busyness and become more intentional about living a meaningful life, take a long enough pause to:
Check Your Pulse: Have you checked your pulse lately? At the time of writing this, my heart rate read 54 bpm. According to the American Heart Association, your pulse is a key metric to overall health. It is one of the gauges, along with temperature, blood pressure, and respiration rate, that comprise your body’s vital signs dashboard. An elevated heart rate means that the heart is overworking itself and could lead to serious health problems. Busyness creates an entry point for stress which is one of the leading factors in heart failure due to an overworked heart.
Think about your heart like the engine of a car. From the engine, power is distributed for the performing of different functions in the car. Similarly, your heart acts like a blood distribution center. An overheated engine eventually leads to reduced or no car functionality. In similitude, an overworked heart may lead to a heart attack or a shutdown of your body’s distribution center.
Check your pulse. Reduce your stressors. Eat the right foods. Relax and exercise. Your heart and overall health will be better because of it.
Watch Your Pace: Best-selling author, Dr. David Jeremiah wrote that there is a direct correlation between the pace of our lives and the peace in our souls. We seem to use the word “rush” for everything even when it is not warranted. We are always rushing. Every now and then a slow-down and a step back from all that clamors for our attention is beneficial to the soul. Take time to stop and celebrate where you are now. Turn off the need to feed the emptiness you feel by looking at other people’s seemingly perfect lives through posted photos that are probably photo-shopped and took twenty shots to get the “perfect one.”
If our pace has a direct effect on our peace, the first place to watch our pace is in our pursuits. More specifically, pursuits that are in incongruity with our priorities. On a piece of paper list your priorities and your pursuits. Is there alignment between the two? Your pursuits should be nourishing your priorities not stealing your time, energy, and attention from them. Over commitment in pursuits that don’t matter leave us with nothing to give to our priorities where our greatest rate of return is. If what you are pursuing is leaving you empty, it might be worth pruning in order to live a more productive life.
Practice how to Ponder: To ponder means to weigh, reflect, carefully consider, mull over, or chew on. This requires time to yourself at an undisclosed location where distractions cannot reach you. Intentionally set aside time to take stock of your thought life. Pondering calls for an investment of mental energy.
Putting a premium on pondering will result in improved moments of reflection for greater insight. We learn by exposure and curiosity but we grow from what we learn by pondering and then practicing. Pondering also gives you a clearer sense of direction by removing mental blind spots and fogginess. As you practice pondering, a sense of calmness will develop that can become crucial in high pressure situations. Taking time to ponder has kept me from sending texts and emails that I would have later regretted. Avoid the temptation to post or respond in a moment of anger. Use the cool off time to ponder. You will save yourself from trouble.
Final thought: Being busy is a choice. It is more of a “want to” than a “have to” way of life. By living an essential life we can avoid the smoke screen of a full schedule that often camouflages an unfulfilled life. The next time you feel or seem busy, pause, and ask yourself, “Does all that I am doing really matter?”
Keep on Keeping on!