Do We Glorify Being Busy?
SO-- straight up, I think this post is an important one. Hopefully you're not too stressed or busy to take a moment to read this, but if you are, that's even more of a reason to give it a read.
I've been thinking about this topic for a while. We hear about stress almost every single day. Students are stressed, mothers are stressed, those with full time jobs are stressed, every one is stressed. But do we talk about being stressed... too much?
How often do you hear someone respond to a simple 'how are you' with 'super super busy', 'I'm so tired', or 'busy! but good!'? I hear these all the time from people of all ages. A simple good has been transformed into busy. People want other people to know just how freakin' busy they are.
We all know stress (a direct result of extreme "busyness") has a ton of implications for our health. It causes cortisol levels to spike dramatically which leads to weight gain, fatigue and adrenal disfunction. From experience, I'll tell you this isn't fun. Even more, the busier we are, the less connected we feel to ourselves, our environments, our relationships and all those things we are doing. They become meaningless.
The thing is, a lot of people hear this, but they don't realize the full effect that stress is having on their lives, and their not willing to change that. Why? Because being stressed, by being busy, gives people power, prestige and purpose. If someone is really busy at work, it's usually because their working toward an important project, proposal, event or what not. They're working on something of high prestige - and being busy working on that project gives them a sense of accomplishment and power. If they're busy, they're achieving something.
But, what I really want to get at here is the fact that our society, reinforced by our culture and work ethic, glorifies the state of being stressed and busy until it becomes a competition. The busier we are, the more important things we have on our to-do lists, the more classes we are taking alongside our jobs, the more activities we have to drive our kids to and what not. Don't get me wrong, a lot of these tasks are necessary for many people and a lot of people do have to do all of this just to get by on a daily basis. But, the issue is that some people use this aspect of being stressed to show to other people that they're working hard, earning a lot, getting a lot of stuff done, and just doing as much as they can. People are convinced that the more they do, the more they accomplish, the busier they are, the more people will associate them with success. The more they will be recognized as important.
Where does this come from? Well, I'm convinced it's all of those work-hard mantras that got us here in the first place. (But who knows -- maybe all the 'chill out' mantras will lead us to be vegetables in 30 years, ya never know). Jokes aside, the idea that has been ingrained in our psyche for ages has been that the harder you work, the more successful you'll be. That we have to work endless hours to be high-achieving and to be important. The idea that relaxation and rest is for lazy, unmotivated people -- something I am still working to bring into my life.
Why is this becoming an issue? As fundamental as this is to human nature and social psychology, it really is detrimental to our levels of self-worth and personal value. I feel that when someone else is busy, when they're doing so much, I feel like I should be busy too. I feel like I should be chasing my dreams, hustling every damn day and "getting on that work grind" just to say I did. If people hear that I'm working that hard, they'll feel that their level of work is inadequate and that they should be busy and hustling too. It causes comparison. It causes envy and it causing feelings of inadequacy. It creates the idea that just because someone is busy, they are successful and powerful.
The reason this resonates so so much with me is that I have a problem with feeling guilty for not being busy. It's real, it's true and it's a direct consequence of this stigma that our society creates between success and busyness. I have a huge issue with having no agenda for the day. I get fidgety, bored and guilty. I feel that I 'should' be doing something. I should be constantly working on the blog, research, working out, or any of my personal projects. This is not the same thing as motivation or inspiration, unfortunately. This place of negative self talk does not inspire me to keep working toward my goals -- that's something else entirely. This only really leads me to feel guilty for 'doing nothing' even if it's what my body and soul really want. My mind disconnects from my body because of this glorification of being busy that our society has created.
SO, with that being said, I really want to focus on just allowing myself to be. To let go of the need to constantly be doing something "productive". To start my day with the intention to be intuitive with my self, rather than to be productive. Why? Because the word productive is vague. I could be positively productive by working on a blog post that I feel greatly inspired to write with information I want to share with you all. But, if I don't have that inspiration that day (which I'm learning is OK), setting the intention to 'be productive' will set me up for failure. It sets me up for feelings of guilt when I'm not as productive, or busy, as I intended to be. So I've switched that around and have started to follow my productivity when the inspiration intuitively comes to me. Going against the grain of society, but going with the flow of my body & soul.
Do you often feel the pressure from society to be busy? To fill up your agenda as much as you can with workouts, classes, meetings, lectures, etc, just so that people see you as motivated, successful and having it all together? To do as much as you can every day, to the point where you're not only stressed, but plain old exhausted? Same. And I'm done with it.
It's time for me, and for all of us, to focus on filling our lives with abundance of things that we love. Things that get us up and out of bed in the morning. Things that set our souls on fire! It's time to re-evaluate if we are doing all those things just because someone else is doing them or because we feel we should be doing all that so other people see us as high-achieving and successful. It's time to be honest with ourselves, and those who we surround us with, that we're not just busy. We're either freaking tired and burnt out from being busy (dare we let ourselves be vulnerable) or we're thriving on our minimalist schedule full only of things that we truly find joy in. Or are we just trying to be busy for the sake of being busy?
What can you do to let go of these feelings of guilt for not being busy 24/7? Well, first of all, know that it is completely okay, if not better, for you body to not be busy all the time. Rest is important, rest is restorative. With time to let our brain relax, we are able to easily switch it on to be productive when we need to be. You can slow down, meditate, carve our more 'me time' and say 'no' just because you feel like it. It's #trendy :)
Just some thoughts !