The Cult of Busy
True confession: I get caught in the cult of busy. I hear about other people’s weekend plans with friends or family, and feel a little inferior if I don’t have plans of my own. Watching people run from meeting to meeting makes me wonder if I shouldn’t be a little more like them. And I’ve had the following conversation more times than I can count:
“How have you been?” “Busy!”
But “busy” is a poor answer. If you’re the one asking how things are going, the answer “busy” gives you exactly zero information. It doesn’t tell you how the other person is feeling, what challenges they are facing, or what accomplishments they are celebrating. If you’re the one answering “busy”, what are you actually trying to say? Obviously, you’re busy. Go beyond the obvious. What value do you place on being busy? Does busy equal stressed?
If you are a card-carrying member of the cult of busy like me, don’t panic. Come to think of it, you probably don’t have time to panic.
There isn’t anything wrong, per se, about the act of being busy. But often, in the midst of our busy-ness, we forget all the things that make life worthwhile. We almost certainly forget self care, which then affects our health and wellbeing.
So how do you leave the cult? Yeah, it would be ideal if you could cut down on all the things making you busy, but let’s be realistic and admit that sometimes it’s not possible. The immediate and wonderful alternative is to just change how you think about being busy. If busy = stress in your mind, try changing that. Busy is just a state of being—it’s an activity. You can be physically busy, but feel just great at the same time.
Each time you feel stressed, take a slow, deep breath. Try a few repetitions of my favorite breathing exercise: Take a breath in while counting to 4, hold for 4, breathe out while counting to 4, and hold for 4.
Another great option is to take a mindful minute. Breathe, and pay attention to how your body is feeling. Start at your toes, and mentally scan your body until you reach your head, relaxing any places that are tense or tight.
Breath work and mindfulness are great tools to help you escape the cult of busy, and get back in touch with what really matters to you.
Homework: For 1 week, whenever someone asks how you are, answer with anything except “busy.”