Follow Dr. Arias Shah:
Busy Life - Destroying Quality of Life
Why do we feel we must always be busy in our life to feel valued? As if, if we weren't busy, being pulled a thousand ways, we would be judged for doing nothing with our life. There is a sense of guilt if you are not "productive," taking care of something. Note, however, being busy does not equate to being productive. Now, if you look up the meaning of being productive, you would argue with me and say, but it clearly says producing a lot, but it's much more that. As many would add, you would have to be efficient in what you do. In fact, many who are actually productive are not as busy because they were efficient and proficient in whatever they did. The epidemic of this mentality in our American culture has gotten worse as we have gained more knowledge and technology we have more opportunities, instilling a need to be competitive to stay in the game. God forbid, you stop to smell the roses you might lose your edge, your profits, your work, your reputation, and so on. Its too much pressure.
This way of thinking transcends the workplace; it is also evident in relationships. For instance, if you are not busy entertaining your loved ones, you don't care. You will be guilted by them, on you don't spend enough time with them and you are not doing enough. And if you think about what the outsiders are doing, then there is another layer of guilt, as you would think you have to have your kids in many activities to equate to super parent because that would show you care and love them. So people keep adding on more stuff to do because that would equate to success, which equates to value. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying let's all do nothing and revert to primitive times without a care in the world. After all, all today's advancements are due to lots of people's hard work, but there it is. Yes, typically hard work and all these advances required a lot of time invested; therefore, I guess you can say those people were busy, but there are a lot of other components involved in our world advancements, such as creativity and collaborations (teamwork).
We just need to find balance. People are going to burnout. Notice how with the increase of advances across the different fields, and changes in laws and pop culture acceptance, there has also been an increase in mental health symptoms and diagnoses. There is a problem in what we consider is valuable and successful. Now, I will be the first one to say this is subjective, and I would respect other's beliefs, but I believe what is valuable and successful does not necessarily have to be concretely defined and imposed among people, but there can be an overarching paradigm shift perhaps an overall consensus we can all agree on, and that can be promoting wellness. But you may wonder what does that mean, wellness. It a general term associated with health, and without good health, we are ill in some way (mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, financially, spiritual; you name it. To cultivate wellness requires mindfulness, which can lead to respect for self and others in turn peace and joy. With this said, I believe despite the obstacles in life we may face because we are all sure to have our share of heart and head-aches, that we can surpass them if we have or embrace a certain attitude. One that notices the small positive things (moments and qualities) in the experiences and within people, reflecting your humility, appreciation, and compassion towards yourself, life, and others. This leads me to think of a need to build resiliency.
But back to the busyness and how that has steered people off the course of joy and wellness. If you are going to be "busy," consider if you had your day, week, month, or life drawn out in a pie chart or graphed, how would it reflect how you are allocating your time. Can you be busy relaxing sometimes? Busy having fun? LOL. I guess, I just wanted to share this critical topic that many of us most probably can admit to be living. That is, living on fumes, and not even knowing that we are going to bust and unnecessarily. This topic was actually brought up in church recently, perhaps in a little different context. Still, nevertheless, the take away is the same, and that is to make sure you are investing your time wisely and value yourself independently of what others believe to be right.
The busyness instilled in our society leaves people depleted after a temporary sense of success. Consider how you are living your life. Many believe we have only one life, so if that is true and we don't know when is our last day, maybe there is a need to change our priorities to value things, people, and behaviors that promote healthy living. Some again will argue, "but who is to say what is 'healthy,' 'wellness,' 'successful,' or 'valuable.'" I am not arguing any of this is wrong or that there is a right way of living or that being busy is bad. Instead, I offer the idea that being busy is not all cracked up to be if it's causing distress to the level of affecting your wellness and your relationships (work, friends, family, etc.). Some people indeed thrive being busy and perhaps could even say not being busy increases their anxieties and other typical mental health symptoms. We are wired differently, but there is some truth to the research, noticing how the quality of life and mental illness in this country is significantly worse than the rest of the world.
So what then? What can be done? Well, like many other trends, it has to start someday with someone, and it catches on, and in this case, its an attitude of appreciation for the quality of life and relationships, including your own. This may be a foreign concept to some, so take small steps in changing your busy life schedule instead of adding on maybe take away or quit something instead.
In closing, I love what Scott Dannemiller said in an article he wrote, "So my prayer today is this. That I stop defining myself by my doing, and start defining myself by my being. That I stop measuring time by the clock on the wall, and start measuring it by the experiences I share with those around me. And that I stop seeing my life as "busy," and instead, see it for what it truly is. Full"
I would love to open this topic up for discussion. Please leave a message below.
Follow Dr. Arias Shah: