Unmasking the Business of Being Busy

busy woman
busy woman

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” ~Socrates

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e all know that person who, no matter the situation, always seems to have the same story: “I am soooooooooooooooo busy!” Maybe for you it’s a boyfriend or girlfriend (actually, let’s hope it’s an ex), a family member or longtime friend.

“Oh, really?! I didn’t realize that you were in charge of making the world turn,” I want to say.

“You don’t understand. I have to work, my kids are driving me crazy, and I mean, I still have to hit the gym. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”

Insert blank stare. I never know what to say.

Except that, I used to be this person. Just five years ago, I was soooooooooooooooo busy.

I remember dropping the line, “Dude, you have no idea how busy I am” so many times, when I really didn’t want to do something.

Maybe it was going to dinner with a friend who was all the way on the other side of the city, or going to a party when I didn’t feel like making small talk.

Whatever the circumstance that was my go-to line: “There’s no way—I’m way too busy.”

Running an extremely popular restaurant and selling real estate in the city, I worked a minimum of 60 hours each week. My boyfriend, who was also starting his own real estate company, and I, boasted a healthy social life.

And, on top of that, I spent as much time as I could with my mother, who was fighting a Stage Four breast cancer diagnosis tooth and nail.

If I was lucky, I slept five hours a night. I can remember surviving on steak, red wine and espresso for a least a year straight. I am still paying the price for having put my mind and body through such abuse — the endless nights staying out till five in the morning, the extra time put in at work and the countless hours spent working out. (How else was I going to fit into my next cocktail dress?)

I was the thinnest I had ever been, and on the outside I looked fantastic . . . but what was happening inside was an entirely different ball of wax.

I was fucking dying, drowning in a sea of Busy.

And, in fact, I was busy. But, it wasn’t for any of the right reasons. I loved all the money I was making, but what I loved even more was the fact that I didn’t have five seconds to deal with everything that was so horribly screwed up in my life.

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The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well--Being, Wisdom and Wonder -- By Arianna Huffington “Today we often use deadlines—real and imaginary—to imprison ourselves.”

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My boyfriend and I were going through some serious relationship problems; my mom was dying; my brother had some serious health issues, and I just kept running from one thing to another.

And as long as I kept running, I could avoid facing everything that was slowly killing me.

Eventually, I ran out of steam — I had to stop running.

We hide behind statements like, “I’m beyond busy,” and “You don’t understand how busy I am,” and the best one, “I don’t even know where to begin.” I hid behind these empty words too. I know how easy it is to use them — and to believe they are true.

But the truth is that we don’t have to be so busy.

Here’s a hint for finding where to begin: Slow. The. Fuck. Down.

When I finally took a moment to slow down, I realized that what I really wanted was just to be happy, to enjoy my life, and to really experience all this world has to offer. I absolutely wanted to figure out what my destiny was, then start moving towards it on my own terms.

I had to confront the fact that, up to this point, I had just been cruising through life with blinders on.

These realizations led me to completely change the way I lived, and what I was willing to do or more importantly, not to do. I restructured my life so I could run my own company full-time. I do not have a boss, I’m single, and I feel as free as I think I could ever be. I made these decisions on purpose.

I’ve made major sacrifices. I’ve walked away from making a substantial amount of cash, and I’ve consciously decided to walk (not run) down this road.

Life is passing us by, and all we keep doing is clinging to Mr. Hectic. So maybe now is a good time to stop running and start facing this busyness that seems so all encompassing? There will always be the same amount of hours in a day, and that’s never going to change . . . so we must change.

We have to decide what is really important to us and work around that vision, taking an inventory of our days and how we spend each passing hour. (Side note: I bet if we wrote down how many hours we spend on Facebook or channel surfing, our heads would blow up.)

Of course, there are going to be points in our lives when we truly are slammed. We are productive humans with full lives, and that’s a good thing. But what I’m describing is the chronically occupied person — prisoner of the “Busy” trap, dead on their feet.

One might even catch these zombies turning their innocent children into hamsters running on the never-ending wheel: school, piano lessons, soccer practice, tutors, Future Robots of America meetings, etc. (Yes, really.)

People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” ~ C.G. Jung

It’s important to know that behind every excuse, there is something much deeper going on. Sometimes we have to stop running and smell the roses — to take inventory of our beautiful lives.

Stress comes when we are out of control . . . and no matter how fast we run from it, eventually life is going to catch up with us. We can’t run forever.

That bad marriage you’re not confronting, that boss who you allow to treat you like crap, or those bills you keep shoving in the bottom drawer of your desk — they have their eyes on you. They are lessons waiting to be learned, and the Universe is keeping track.

All of the problems and the issues you aren’t dealing with because you are too “busy,” they are growing by the day, turning into ferocious monsters.

I believe our true purpose in life is to grow and evolve. I don’t think the plan was for us to wake up at 5 am, work for 12 straight hours, pop a frozen dinner in the microwave, yell at our kids, then sit in the front of the TV with a bottle of wine to come down from our “busy” day.

That cycle is a product of the unhealthy part of our society. It keeps us distracted, unable to figure out who we really are by keeping us bound to “The System.” Breaking the addiction to “busy-ness” is the first step towards our higher purpose, our real destiny.

We all have choices. We can destroy our problems one by one, and open up our lives, or we can slap on the blindfold and stay busy as a beaver. Either way, our problems — I mean, lessons — aren’t going anywhere.

So, next time you drop the line, “I’m crazy busy,” instead of feeling important or accomplished, get real and ask yourself, “Is this what life is really about? What am I not dealing with? Is this as good as it gets?” Chances are, the answer is,

“Hell no, it’s not!”

So let’s make space in our lives for the things we really want and deserve, and “get busy” loving ourselves and our lives — which may be our most important job.