I don’t always write on topics that one hears about regularly, but this month’s topic is conveniently embedded into the very DNA of everyday conversation niceties. Why we are so preoccupied with asking people “how are you?” when we don’t actually care or at least don’t have time to find out is beyond me. However, inane conversational rituals is another topic for another time.
What’s the answer to “how are you?” that we seem to get 90% of the time?
“Oh, I’m busy.”
Busy, huh? Funny, that’s exactly what the last 10 people said also. I thought I was the special one, being so busy.
We’ve all had times in our lives where we’ve been busy. But lately I’ve been having way too many conversations with way too many people who are “overwhelmed”, “falling behind”, “just needing to catch up”, etc. So if you’re one of those people, reschedule your next 3 meetings and postpone your dinner date, cause we’re gonna take five minutes and TALK.
Since you’re short on time, let me ask you straight up: why are you busy?
Here are your two possible answers:
A) To avoid my inner thoughts
B) Because I desire connection with others
If you answered A), please reroute to my article “Got Spiritual Credit Problems?”. If you answered B), congratulations! Your journey continues below.
“But what if I just chose B) because I didn’t want to choose A)? I don’t even know what B) means…”
Well, my friend, think deeper. I sincerely believe that the only reason humans do anything is to make connections. Connections with God, people, animals, androids…we want connection. I mean, you don’t join clubs because you hate people. You don’t go to church, synagogue or seances because you dislike the idea of connection with the divine. And you don’t have a job just so you can earn money, much as many of us seem to think so. Money = power, and power = connection, no?
Connection is good. So why is it that the busiest people are often the least happy?
Let me refer to my life in answer.
My high school life was the quintessential example of the overachiever. Co-President of the Student Council, played volleyball and basketball, got top grades in my class, co-led a small group, led a worship team at church, worked, played lead roles in drama productions, international missions trip…and that all not including social events, or eating and sleeping (which actually it didn’t always include, due to busyness, of course).
Sometimes this lifestyle was fun, but, as I journaled at one point, “I seriously don’t like my life a lot of the time…it’s too…I don’t know…busy and screwed up.” Funny, because, a year earlier, I had written, “IF YOU ARE TOO BUSY FOR GOD, STOP”; ie., if I don’t have time to cultivate a relationship with my very purpose in life, there’s no point to anything else. Guess I got too busy to remember that. And sadly, it wasn’t till I got out of high school and moved to another country that I felt like I was able to put my brain back in.
Therefore, I propose that the reason people can get so unhappy when life gets busy is that they lose sight of the reasons why they got busy in the first place. Have you become a victim of Busyinitis? Take this test: ask yourself when the last time was that you actually realized, in the moment, that you were connecting with someone and/or simply feeling fulfilled. NOTE: looking at old photos and thinking about how great things were “back in days of yore” doesn’t count – how do you remember how you ACTUALLY felt when that picture was taken?
If you can’t remember the last time you really felt great, and you don’t expect to have this experience anytime soon, ask yourself: is what you’re doing REALLY worth it? Because, see, it’s a trap to think that you’ll only feel fulfilled in some pie in the sky moment in the future. For example, people often say college was the best time of their lives. Well, I’m in college, and I don’t hear ANYONE say that. Perhaps we’re too busy to realize we’re “having the time of our lives”?
So let me offer you some healthy combat tips for fighting Lord Busyness:
- Keep in mind that you can feel fulfilled even when you’re on the journey. Know why? Because YOU’RE ALWAYS ON THE JOURNEY. All you gotta do is just decide whether you’re going to enjoy it or not.
- Understand that life is like going for a swim. Sometimes you just gotta stick your head under and paddle, but if you want to make sure you’re actually going the right direction, you’re gonna have to stick your head up and take a look around every so often.
- Do less better. Be careful what you sign up for; like Kris Vallotton says: “good is the enemy of best”.
- Give your life some some margins to be able to scribble in. Shutting off the ability to be spontaneous can be really depressing.
- Whatever you do, FIND PURPOSE IN EVERYTHING YOU DO. If you don’t know or can’t remember why you’re involved in certain things, lay ’em on the altar and see what they’re really worth.
If this article caught you in the middle of a torrent of activities and you’re wondering how exactly you can reach for this lifeboat of serenity before you spiral away again, I’d say you have two options. You could stick your head under and paddle hard till your responsibilities are through, like I did in high school, and then reassess everything after. Or you could proclaim, “carpe diem!”, flip your desk over, and march triumphantly out of your daily humdrum into your bright, free future.
Whichever level of drama you choose, you owe it to yourself to give yourself some space. Life’s too short not to realize when you’re actually living it.
A public man, though he is necessarily available at many times, must learn to hide. If he is always available, he is not worth enough when he is available.