Sharing a meaningful conversation – “Why are you so busy?”
Somehow, our society puts a false value on being ‘busy’. Just think how many times a day you ask someone “How are you?” and the answer is “Fine” but promptly followed by a “Just really busy!”. Especially at work, we feel as though we must say that or else people will think we are not worthy of our employment.
I recently had lunch with a colleague, who spoke about how packed her life is. She schedules every part of her day and runs from one responsibility to another during the day, evenings and weekends. She had just gotten off a plane that morning and was racing between three commitments back-to-back each in different parts of the city, fitting me in to the lunch time slot.
I decided to ask her the question “Why do you do this?”. Her response was “I don’t really know”. So my next question was “How do you feel?” and she replied “I just feel busy. I just feel stressed.”
Our conversation quickly deepened, and she described how she ‘felt that she had to do all of it, or she felt like she was wasting time. Also she wondered if she subconsciously packed her schedule as a way to turn off something deep inside that may be bothering her’. Gee, that sparked the memory of how I had been most of my life, up until recently when I began my cancer journey. I too felt that having time not scheduled full of activities or to-do’s was a waste of time. We analyzed why we behave like that, and concluded that our upbringing may be a big contributor to that – having parents who did not recognize when we did something well, and always found a way to dampen our enthusiasm by criticizing things we were excited about. We do not have a psychology background, but we still felt this probably made us constantly strive and push ourselves in an unhealthy way.
Now I don’t want to pass judgment on how people choose to spend their time, but I do want to comment on my friend’s response of “I don’t know how I feel, I just feel busy and stressed”. THAT, my friends, is not a good thing. Feeling numb to life isn’t living life, and it sure isn’t valuing your life.
I know many of us have lots of responsibilities in our lives, but I do believe we can all be more mindful. Even taking a few moments during the day just to be present, be still, noticing how we are feeling and taking a few slow deep breaths, reminds us of how alive we are. Everyone can do that – you don’t even have to let people know you are doing this. Just stop and be present, several times a day.
And for you ‘Type A’ personalities out there, believe me when I say that I have gotten better in the past year, but this is still something I’m working on. I can now just leave part of my day unscheduled and be quite OK with that! Letting life unfold in the moment is a surprising revelation I have recently learned to marvel at.