We’ve all heard it, and we all probably do it without thinking: When someone asks how we’re doing, we reply, “Busy.” Whenever I hear that, I think: “Well, who the ‘@#$%!’ isn’t busy — and just what does that mean?” Some seem to say it with such pride — they sound so important. Some, on the other hand, say it with exasperation. They’re exhausted.
Are you “busy productive” with your work? Are you “busy non-productive”? Are you “busy trying not to be busy”? Are you busy looking at Facebook? Are you busy volunteering? Are you busy caring for an aging parent or children? Are you busy spinning your wheels? Are you busy with life affirming and meaningful choices? Busy means nothing. It’s a filler answer, and when we can look beneath the surface of such answers, we may find something much more interesting for ourselves and those who are trying to communicate with us.
What does the word busy mean to you? How do you feel when you answer people like that? Important? Overwhelmed? Neutral or Automated? Do you feel you are living “at choice” or at life’s demands?
I often hear many young professional women exclaim, “I’m so busy!”, and then proceed to follow that statement with all the community activities, non-profit commitments, child care issues, job demands, health issues and more, and then state how they are planning to go climb Mt. Everest and need to start training! It’s insanity!
Look, being busy is not some badge of honor to wear. Packing every ounce of your time into activities that lead you to a point of exhaustion and diminished health should not be something you aspire to. It’s not attractive. It’s not smart. It’s often ego or fear driven. The real question to ask if you fall in this category is: What are you running from? Really. The second question is: What price are you paying? And: What price are your kids or your family paying? What will have to happen before you realize that “busy” can get you buried — figuratively and literally.
You may not think you have choices, but you always do. Some are just easier than others. The sooner you lift your head up and allow yourself to feel, to stop running and make space to explore a different way, the sooner you can be on your way to a healthier, happier life. If you can’t see it on your own, find a coach (or therapist if applicable) to help you. You only have one shot at this life – don’t squander your joy on limited beliefs about what life can really be like.