Ever noticed the subtle, secret satisfaction derived in complaining, “I am just too busy to do that right now!“?
Here, ‘that’ can refer to anything from having fun, taking care of your self, spending quality time with loved ones, learning anything new … or just about anything under the sun. We get locked into patterns of buzzed routines and may not notice when the exhaustion is accompanied with a certain satisfaction. Before you can admit to any addiction to busyness, perhaps the following need to be noted:
- Most of us are conditioned to believe that ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop‘. Right from childhood, the values of hard work and staying occupied are valued, while quiet time, reflection and spaciousness are labelled ‘lazy, non-productive’ and so on.
- Busyness feeds a story of self-importance. Its easy to ignore how much is being accomplished (or not), the quality of it and whether it is in alignment with your aspired values and priorities, when one is running on the treadmill. Like a hamster on the wheel, you keep running to stay in the same place, but now there is a belief that you are ‘doing something’.
- Busyness is associated with success and achievement. Ironically, the most accomplished people are more often than not, in complete cognition of the leverage that comes from inner balance.
- We forget that Non-action is an option. Not everything needs to be addressed. Our impulse to ‘fix’ things in a hurry does not allow for time and space to evaluate the situation objectively. Sometimes, more can be done by doing less or nothing. Rushing into action may result in more to deal with than before. As Lao Tzu said: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
There are also some advantages that arise from adopting Busyness. They serve our conscious or unconscious self-sabotage strategies very well.
- We are left with no time, space or energy to sit in stillness long enough to look within and face all that is crying for attention. Too often, the storms inside seem overwhelming and rather than Facing the Storms, we find ways to divert our attention. If others try to call our attention to our inner discomfort (that may be more clearly visible to them) – we give them the ‘helpless’ excuse of busyness as well.
- Busyness also encourages and reinforces the victim mentality and leaves us and others convinced that there is no choice in the matter, that there is just no breathing space possible right now.
- Busyness helps us avoid transformational change. Most of us have an inherent discomfort with radical change. Busyness keeps us from addressing the root cause of the situations in our life. This in turn shuts the door to difficult choices that we may intuitively be sensing, but are reluctant to implement. Unlike the hamster trapped in the same place, we may actually be preferring the consequent stagnation, as it appears comfortable in comparison to other outcomes.
The truth is that there is always an option. The challenge is not really about limited time or resource management. Its a matter of prioritization. Knowing you need air to breathe, would you say there is no time to breathe? That is an extreme example meant to prod you into examining whether your said values are your true values. Your true values are reflected in your doing. If you value health, family, artistic pursuits or spiritual evolution – you will make time for it. You will find the tools, you will practice the techniques and you will not procrastinate under the shadow of ‘busyness’. For example, a simple reminder I have been using for a long while is in my conscious response to others. When they ask me “What are you up to these days?” or “What are you doing now?”, I deliberately reply: “I keep myself busy.” The emphasis being on my choice to keep myself occupied, so if I ever start feeling frazzled or locked into “busyness”, its easy to remember that its by choice and I am always free to choose differently. That itself stills any inner haste.
Busyness is a state of mind. It is the belief that you are cut off from any other way of being. When due recognition is given to the inner space – any action that arises out of it – will appear effortless and easy. It does not mean that you will stop taking necessary actions or sit idle.
It will mean that you operate with energy, enthusiasm and inner peace.
Knowing that inner harmony results in outer balance.
That action need not be exhausting, accomplishment need not be difficult and busyness need not be a compulsion.
Instead of being as busy as a bee, wouldn’t you rather just be?
Photo Credit: Chinmay Kulkarni