I have recently noticed that the new response to “How are you?” doesn’t seem to be “I’m fine, how are you?” but has come to be “I am so busy”! I have never liked the original trite response to the question anyway, but this new one has me worried.
As I have sought out ideas on subjects to write about to help people live a more meaningful life, busyness has been the most popular topic. Something seems to be eating away at us from the inside as we try in vein to catch up and keep up when there never seems to be a sense of completion.
We are encouraged to be a part of every service group possible, be ultra-productive at work, be super involved parents, attend every social event, make meals worthy of the Food Network, and try to keep up with the never ending list of things at home that needs maintained or upgraded.
We check email, Facebook, and Twitter every 15 minutes, think taking a nap is laziness, eat instant everything, and try to find clever ways to beat the ever clicking clock so we can achieve more.
It’s no surprise that people are more stressed, anxious, disconnected, addicted, obese, and just plain worn out than ever. It’s difficult to break this pattern because we have a lot riding on it.
In the book "Daring Greatly", Brene Brown says that in her research on vulnerability, she finds that busyness becomes an armor to deflect the need for personal honesty and authenticity. “One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having twelve-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.”
I have also seen in myself that a portion of my self-worth is attached to busyness. If someone else tells me how busy they are, I start to worry that maybe they are more accomplished, more popular, and more in demand than I am. I question whether I am doing enough to prove that I have worth and seek out the strange sense of pride that comes along with being able to say, “Oh I am so busy!”
We can also feel that we are missing out on something if we aren’t constantly in action and that we will be less successful if we slow down. However, in an article in the Huffington Post on traits of successful people, Michael Price has found that “successful people prioritize the things that matter most, focus on those and leave the rest to be tackled on another day.”
So then, if learning to slow our lives down to a more reasonable pace interests you, here are some tips to living a slower, simpler, happier life:
- Choose 3 main projects to accomplish each day. Keep a “to do” list of other things that need to get done and only work on those after your main projects have been accomplished.
- In the Storyline Productivity Schedule (createyourlifeplan.com) author Donald Miller suggests to list the things you would do if you could live this day over again. It’s a trick to assess what is really important to you so that maybe you can simplify.
- Develop a mission statement for your life and learn to say no to activities that don’t fit into your life purpose. There are always basic daily chores that need to be done, but guard your time by making the best choices.
- Give yourself designated times to be unproductive. Sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and a good book, play cards, go for a walk, or play with the kids.
- Limit time on social media. We all know how just a quick check can lead to over an hour of wasted time and most of all attention.
- Embrace quality over quantity. Choose less activities but focus on the ones you embrace more. This can lead to more satisfaction and fulfillment.
- Find a hobby. Tap into your creativity. Shift from being a consumer of products and activity to being a creator ideas and things that bring life.
- Spend time with people you love. Relationships are an essential part of living a meaningful life. If we make the time spent with those we love a priority, we won’t end up with any death-bed regrets.
For more information on related topics check out 2 of my favorite blogs: