January 26, 2011

I'm Just So Busy!

These days many people wear their busy lifestyles like a badge of honor. Take the holidays, for example, when I asked people in passing how their holidays were I heard more "It was so busy" than any other answer. When I ask people how their day was, I get "it was just so busy" more often than not.  Does this mean it was good or bad or indifferent? Is being "busy' a good thing, does it mean you are an important and influential powerhouse in the office? I have no idea.

I do know that many people identify themselves as "busy". Perhaps it makes them feel important and contributors to the world. If one was to answer the question "How are you doing?" by describing how relaxed they were living their lives at a slower pace would you think of them any less? Would you think they were slacking off, or lazy, or perhaps retired?

How did "being busy" become a good thing and valued in our society? Why do we, as North Americans, think this is a fine way to live our lives?There is a great scene in the movie "Eat, Pray, Love" where Julia Robert's character is sitting in a barber shop in Italy listening to the rant of a local on the lifestyle of the average North American.  Evidently, we North Americans work too hard only to exhaust ourselves to the point of hibernating on the weekends in our sweat pants. He really did have a great point (and a funny one at that).

Poor little cartoon character! She looks
completely stressed out.
The worst of it all is watching the busy parents passing on their busy-ness to their poor kids. The "kids these days" are enrolled in swimming, gymnastics, karate, the sport of the season, and working hard to achieve the grades you need to get to university (on scholarship). The very worst part is the parents admitting their kids are busy (and even watching them disintegrate through injuries, sleeplessness, and higher levels of anxiety). I've seen this first hand...and not just one family either. They just shrug it off as a part of life and keep on truckin'.  Do you really think we are teaching them to live their lives well? Really?

Does any parent want their kids to experience the health costs due to a stressful lifestyle such as; high blood pressure, digestive issues, over/under eating, insomnia, addictions, cancers and other chronic diseases, relationship difficulties, feelings of depression and premature aging, and much more? Sounds like the warnings on a pharmaceutical label doesn't it? I don't think any parent would want this for their child. BUT...teaching them how to be busy is one sure way of making this happen.

This is a beautiful picture on so many levels!
I would love to live in a world where relaxed, well adjusted people are held in high regard in our society. Where being too busy was like smoking in public...it's just bad for your health. I would love to see the art of doing nothing become a popular pursuit and something of value in our society. We would have awards of distinction for people who didn't spread themselves too thin and be everything to all but nothing to their family. Parents would be awarded not just for having children, but for raising healthy, well adjusted young adults.

Psst...looking for a challenge? Try sitting
on your couch (not on the shelf) and do
nothing. Pay attention to how you are
feeling and what you are thinking. Chances are
it will be harder than you thought. But well
worth the practice as you find it easier and easier.
If you are living a life that includes doing nothing and enjoying a night without anything on the agenda but baths, movies, book reading, petting the dog, walking with friends, and enjoying the good things in life...congratulations for choosing health over status. For those of you who haven't enjoyed a minute of down time since Bob Hope hosted the Oscars...it's not too late! Start (slowly) to say no to things and pull back on the volunteering and extra curricular activities. Plan time to do nothing. The only one judging you...is you.

That's all I got today.

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