A part of that equation was the fact I was young(er) and excited for the possibilities life presented. I wanted to experience it all, to do everything, and say no to nothing. I loved the high energy pulse of urban chaos: an energy that I associated with success, importance, and a sense of making it happen ... whatever “it” was.
Despite my busy buzz, I used to feel like I hardly had any time to enjoy the things I loved: hanging out with friends, sleeping in on the weekend, visit my family, explore the latest exhibit at the art gallery, going for beach walks, meditation and just all the usual invitations for events and parties. I felt like I could hardly breath and take it all in.
And then, I learned
the importance of letting go to let in.
Life presented an opportunity to move to a smaller, sunshinier, beach town with a whooping population that struggles to meet 100,000. It was a massive change of pace and it took me months to shift gears down from my usual full throttle. I have shifted my tempo from dashing from one yoga class to the next fitting in meetings, coffees with friends and my day job all in between to a pace where there is no impetus to rush to anything or anyone.
I’m not sure if it’s the West Coast beach town life that has (finally!) gotten under my skin, but I’ve been wondering how it is that since I have un-busied my life that I have created more. A part of that shift is merely working for myself (bye-bye day job! HELLO freedom!) where I only have moi to answer to. I have opened my own yoga school, inquire + inspire, teach public yoga classes, and I’ve partnered in two companies.
The irony of it all is that since I’ve actually stopped being so busy, I have not only created more happiness, success and abundance (in all areas of my life) but more space for the little things I once thought I just didn’t have time for. I have begun to truly, madly, deeply love all those little things because those little things are what makes a big difference in my world, in my heart.
Why busyness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and a challenge to put it behind us.
“The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” | Lily Tomlin
Being busy used to make me feel important. It made me feel like the world needed me, like somehow I was more valuable or valid when busy. Perhaps that’s why I wore it like a badge and quickly resorted to it when people asked how life was. Yet in all reality, busyness was just another addiction I clung to so I could avoid things that made me uncomfortable.
Sadly, the things I often stayed busy to avoid happened to be some of the more worth while things in life.
I recently shared an article by one of my favorite columnists, Tim Kreider, in which he divulges on the vanity of always being busy. The general gist of his rant can be caught when he says,
“I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy.”
Tim’s article is one of many pieces in a recent and widespread frustration with the perpetual busyness of life. As of late, there seems to be a general suspicion growing about the, once viable, value of always being busy. And because more questions are being asked, more answers are being found.
As it turns out, always being busy isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect anymore. Among many reasons for this, there are a few that stand out to me.
It can actually be a sign of an inability to manage our lives well. Though we all have seasons of crazy schedules, few people have a legitimate need to be busy ALL of the time. For the rest of us, we simply don’t know how to live within our means, prioritize correctly, or say no. “Being busy is not the same as being productive,” says Tim Ferriss, “…and is more often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions. Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”
It can be indicative of a lack of confidence and self-worth. Often we stay busy to subconsciously feel important and valuable to the world around us. Sadly, this points to an ignorance of our inherent value, in that regardless of our performance in life, we are important, loved and valuable. This slippery slope typically makes us too uncomfortable with ourselves or the reality of our lives to slow down.
Busyness actually restricts professional performance and limits mental capacity. With plenty of recently published psychological and biological evidence of this, Kreider seems to capture it well in the previously cited Busy Trap when he says,
“Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice. It is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
Busy often keeps us from the finer things in life. Though being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a time, the sensation is not sustainable long term. We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of the rat race and more time actually living. Or as Seneca says in Letters from a Stoic, “There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living, and there is nothing harder to learn.”