Talk to almost anyone these days, ask how they're doing and one of the first couple of words will be: busy! Daily life in North America is lived at a blinding pace and being chronically busy seems to be the norm. However many are desiring to take a big step off the "busy" treadmill to take some concrete steps to change! Part of this is coming out of agreement with three lies that keep us chronically busy.
Take a moment and reflect on the following questions:
- Do you live at a pace that allows you to be available for others? To God? For yourself? Don't confuse activity (i.e. doing 'God' things) with being available.
- Do you have the capacity to be truly present and attentive to others? To what they are saying to you?
- How about the opportunity and the cultivated awareness to live life in such a way as to become aware of God in each moment of your day and find rest in this?
- Is it even a possibility that you could have a half-hour to yourself, for yourself? To think, reflect and respond to what is really happening inside of you? If you hit the floor running first thing in the morning and don't stop until you fall into bed at night, this may be a clue that you are over busy.
Look, we all have seasons in our lives that are busy. Situations, circumstances that may be out of our control, but what I am talking about here is a lifestyle of chronic busyness. If you would describe your life with a prevailing, general sense of weariness, anxiety, drivenness and being cranky, chances are the root may indeed be toxic busyness.
Three lies that keep us crazy busy
1. "Things will settle down soon!" I used to say this, and you know what? It's a big fat lie! There will always be plenty of things that will devour our time if we let it. It is important that we understand what is REALLY important to us and make choices to reject those activities that will erode those core values. The word "NO" can be the best tool in our arsenal against chronic busyness!
2. "More will be enough." This is a huge carrot that our western worldview holds before us to keep us producing. After a certain point more stuff, more money doesn't have a sizable impact on your life. Social psychologists studying happiness and key indicators have discovered that after our base needs (food, shelter, clothing) are met, the measurable improvement in happiness and satisfaction begins to level out. They suggest, for example, that the degree of measurable happiness between being homeless and $50,000 per year is very significant, but the difference between $50K and $250K is significantly less dramatic. This is true and even more pronounced between those making $250k and $5 million! More is not always better - it doesn't guarantee any more happiness!
3. "Everybody lives like this." While lots of people do live with chronic busyness, many, many people are taking a hard look at their lives; what is truly important to them and making meaningful changes. They are getting free from the idea that the brand names they wear or the vehicle they drive define who they are as a person in any way, shape or form. Many are turning their backs on the hype of a consumeristic culture gone mad with the epiphany that we work to live, not live to work!
Illustration: A friend was talking about his mother-in-law. A lovely talented woman who by many standards is very successful. When challenged about working through holidays, family events and not spending time with grandchildren her response is always the same - she wants to leave a legacy for the grand children she never sees!
This example brings the saying: "What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” to a very sharp point!
Want off the hamster wheel of chronic busyness?
- List the top 5 things that are most important to you.
- Look at your average week: evaluate it based upon the five things you listed above.
- How do these activities add or detract from your stated priorities?
- Re-Prioritize, un-clutter and choose to make space for what you have identified as most important.
- Learn to recognize and say "No" to the lies above without feeling guilty.