“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” - Socrates
It is the disease of Doing, known by some as the I’m-So-Busy Syndrome.
Before you close your laptop in disgruntled dismay that this epidemic is not a “real” physical ailment sweeping across the world and killing millions, let me assure you that it is. It costs lives in the form of stress-induced heart disease, it costs peace of mind, and it costs happiness.
We seem to believe that our lives have more meaning, more value, perhaps more virtue, if we are in a constant state of busy-ness. In some circles, being “so busy” has become something to brag about, albeit in a whiny way, as though being busy and disliking being that busy is proof of a person’s worth.
But what would happen if we all just paused when we felt the need or felt compelled to? What would happen if we stopped to take ten deep breaths a few times a day, or spent a day off actually doing nothing or practicing self-care rather than running around keeping busy? What would happen if we did not view busy-ness as a glorified state of existence, but rather viewed the act of connecting with the breath, with quietness, with the essence of life, as respectable and praiseworthy instead?
The chores would still get done – arguably more efficiently because we would actually be more grounded. Work would still be completed – arguably even better because our minds would be clear and our bodies rested. Relationships would still be intact – arguably even more intimately because we would have more quality energy to give others.
I know because I’ve spent the last few weeks actually listening to my mind and body’s needs, giving both whatever they needed in the moment. Imagine that! I ate when I was hungry, exercised when my body wanted to move, wrote when I felt creative, socialized when I felt the need to connect with others, worked hard when my mind was active, cooked when I felt the desire to get in the kitchen and cook, took deep breaths when I needed solitude. And lo and behold, what happened? I lost ten pounds, I did work efficiently and well, I did all the chores I needed to do, I was anxious less often, and, best of all … I feel really, really radiant and centered — inside and out.
Yes, of course we all have to work, to get out of bed earlier than we may like and stick to a schedule that keeps us going for long hours on end. And then many of us come home to needy children who deserve every iota of our care and attention. But around and within that, we do have moments of flexibility – seconds, minutes, hours, or even days off when we can listen to what we really need from life – whether it be to do absolutely nothing, to play, to work, to create, to cook.
The bottom line is, we don’t have to be so busy all the time. In fact, being “so busy” is just an excuse to feel important. Our mental and physical health reap endless benefits when we slow down, pause, and actually enjoy life. We will actually be better workers, parents, friends, spouses, and people when we make every effort to get out of the mindset that busy is good, and finally cure our disease of Doing.
Now go make a cup of tea or coffee … and just sit there for a few.
It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. – Henry David Thoreau
Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.
― Lin Yutang
By Anitra Lahiri
Anitra Lahiri is an avid Yogi, Yoga Instructor, mother, and writer who strives (and often fails!) to infuse all aspects of her life with Yoga philosophy and practice. Her Yoga blog, Under the Lotus Tree, is for anyone who simply wants to live a healthier, more meaningful life.
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