Busy, Busy, Bullshit

“We are human beings, not human doings” – Deepak Chopra

We live in a culture that values productivity, consumption and youth.  So much so that our ideal often looks like a fit woman in yoga gear dropping off well-groomed kids at private school before hopping in a shiny SUV to shower, head to work for 10 hours, and then stop at the local co-op for vegetables on the way home.

And if you were to speak to this perfect-seeming human, she would proudly complain that she’s only getting about 6 hours of sleep a night because life is crazy busy! Is she looking for sympathy? Doubtful. It’s more likely that she’s affirming her place in a society that values what she’s doing.

And why is she doing that? Because the assumption is that people who are not busy must be lazy. They could be doing MORE. What do you mean you had lunch with your mother? Who has time for that? Why aren’t you jogging or writing your book?

And in this judgy way, we all spread the disease of busy-ness. And before you say you really do have too much on your plate . . . If you’re a single mother with two minimum wage jobs, or an ER doctor pulling double shifts, you’re exhausted.  Not “busy.” Busy is a thing people do to themselves.

But we’re not just out to impress, being busy can be comforting too. Busy people don’t have time to look at why they choose to live life the way that they do.  If you’re simply hanging on, always going, then you don’t have to make important choices about who you are and why you’re here.  Who has time for existential questions when the hallway needs painted?

In this Guardian Article, This Column Will Change Your Life: Stop Being Busy, they pin down the issue this way. “[Feeling overwhelmed is] a mismatch between what you expect of yourself and what you manage to get done. If you don't give a stuff about having a clean home, you won't feel overwhelmed by not having vacuumed in months.” 

So, in review, your obsession with being busy has been set by American culture, reinforced by existential discomfort and encouraged by everyone else who is busy. But none of that is a valid excuse. It’s time for YOU to decide how to manage your time.

Once a person isolates what really matters, they can make time for it and let the rest fall away, guilt free. That’s it. It really is that simple. What’s not simple is the letting go of your idealized image of what can be done.

Once we decide to stop being overwhlemed, we’ll have to let go of the hope that we will have: A perfect body +  spotless house + ideal parenting skills + an accelerating career + a flawless marriage + a rich social life +  spiritual balance . . . We will not. But that was never happening anyway. We just refused to admit it. 

-HU




Human Unlimited
Human Unlimited

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1 Comment

Alice
Alice

May 20, 2015

This is a great article. When I was in my teens and early twenties all I knew was that I wanted a career and a historic home with a child, a dog, and a companion to share it with. Once I achieved all those things at 24, I didn’t know where to go. I felt so empty, but what’s worse, I felt OVERWHELMED. I screamed at my kid, I nagged my husband, I was spread so thin, but everyone “admired” me. Was the admiration of strangers really worth becoming a giant whirlwind of unhappiness and misery? And then the career fell apart. I was thrown under the bus by a company I had put my blood, sweat, and tears into to make it successful. I was bitter. And I couldn’t find another job, which made me not only bitter, but desperate and self-loathing. Then one day, as I was sipping my coffee, filling out countless online job applications and questionnaires after dropping my child off at preschool and I realized that it was all bullshit. The cake was a lie. I had done some soul-searching and realized that what I really wanted to do was take care of them. It’s not anti-feminist to enjoy domestic life and to enjoy having time to yourself. We are all much happier now, and a fulfilled, happy life is more valuable to me than any judgmental glare I might get for expressing this philosophy.

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