Busyness has become a trendy epidemic. And I think it’s slowly killing us. I’m almost afraid of asking friends to get together nowadays; I know it could be weeks before we find a date on the calendar that mutually works.
What are we so busy with what pulls us away from human connection?
Busyness has taken a large hold of my life, so much so that I’m fearful of the consequences. A few weeks ago I went away for the weekend to Seattle with my husband. On arrival he dropped me off at the hotel and went to find a parking spot, and I headed up to our room and waited there for a good thirty minutes while he trawled the streets for an optimal space.
As I waited for him alone in the room I realized I had nothing to do — probably for the first time in weeks, or even months. Within minutes I felt bored and was reaching for my phone, feeling annoyed when I didn’t have the password for the hotel Wi-Fi. In that panicked moment of what do I do now?
And then suddenly it hit me: I’m addicted to being busy.
Which is ironic because there has been so much advancement in technology that is based on simplifying my life to reduce that hectic pace. My smart phone, with its apps, is like an appendage. I depend on it to give me what I need, and fast. With it I can multitask so much better than I could a decade ago.
I should have plenty of downtime for my family and friends, right?
Life on Overdrive
The accessibility of smart phones and all the accompanying apps; ultra high speed internet, and the many modern conveniences that claim to make life faster and easier, have only left us with higher expectations and busy lives.
We are now able to pack more into our lives, and put pressure on ourselves to do so. But at what cost? Real human connection? Our health?
Technology advancements have helped lead us down this path but are they entirely to blame? When I compare my life to my mother’s at my age it’s like I’ve hit the playback button on my video stream. I can’t blame that on technology alone, so why is my life so much busier than hers ever was?
The Need for More
In the 1970s my mother kept a home and raised three kids. She didn’t work until we were all much older. Her social life revolved around friendships, the wall-mounted telephone, and the dinner table. Her world was so much smaller.
If my mother wanted to connect with someone she had to call them or knock on a door. She had to make the time for real conversation. Yes, those connections were few — she didn’t have the 700 Facebook friends I have — but they were real, consistent and regular.
But I want so much more than that. I want the career, the kids, the house, the social life, the vacations, the clothes … I could go on.
The problem is that society and technology have made it easier for us to have more. And the more we have, the more we want; the more want, the more we have to do to get it. We aren’t busy because we love the stress; we’re busy because we’re all trying to keep up with one another.
And why do we want to keep up? Because our real human needs have never changed — we want to belong, and to be accepted, seen and loved.
How do we live authentically? In our efforts to use “busyness” as a way to keep pace with the people around us and feel like we belong, are we in fact disconnecting ourselves from what we truly desire?
It begins with living out of our core values. Does the pressure to put our kids in five activities a week come from a value, say, of connection and joy, or from a desire for our child to be just as good at baseball as Johnny next door?
And what will that child remember more: being pushed to excel in baseball, or laughing around the family dinner table?
When our lives are overloaded we need to start asking some hard questions about why we do what we do. Is it because the things we fill our life with bring us contentment and joy, or because we can do more, so we just do?
Society is racing ahead at 100 miles an hour, but our hearts and brains don’t know how to keep up. Our needs are no different now than they were a century or millennium ago.
There is so much opportunity around us — it’s like being offered a whole cake at once instead of just a slice. But we don’t know how to eat the whole cake and feel good; so we need to learn to accept just a slice at a time.
Perhaps that one slice looks like concentrating on pursuing a dream, or connecting with family, or both. But it’s not everything all at once.
The opportunity to do more is a wonderful thing, but if we’re too “busy” rushing from one thing to the next to be able to slow down and enjoy the moment, it loses its value entirely. I think I need to take my own advice.
What does your “busy” look like? If your life is on overdrive, are the things keeping you busy in line with your core values?