When did it become so popular to be busy? Today the answer of simple questions like ‘How are you?’ and ‘How’s it going?’ is usually ‘Busy!’ or ‘Crazy busy!’. The Stress In America Survey published in 2010 by the American Psychological Association shows that the majority of Americans recognize that their stress goes way beyond the the levels necessary to maintain good health and wellness. The most frequent reason they cite for not addressing the problem is being too busy.
Being busy is a sickness. If fact, it’s an epidemic. In the past few years excessive busyness has become a serious condition that more and more people are suffering from. And although there are no blood tests or X-rays diagnostic of this condition, recognizing it is simple, especially judging by its most common symptoms: vertigo, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, headaches, heartburn, back pain, and weight gain. It is no longer stress that causes health problems. It is busyness.
Once upon a time we were all willing to be free and normal, and in that sense actually live our lives. In today’s society, we are defined by what we do, how much money we make, how high we can climb up the career ladder. Over time our society’s notion of being successful has been reduced to money and power. It is true that success is a source of fulfillment and satisfaction, but the happiness that it brings is usually a temporary thing. At some point we loose our balance, and we start to realize that major things in our lives are missing. And although success is a legitimate topic, especially at time when women are still learning how to lean in and gain an equal seat at the table, I can’t help but wonder: is that really what life is all about?
The implication in today’s society is that the one that is not busy doing something, is somehow worth less than those who are ‘crazy busy’. We have forgotten what good life is. Being excessively busy only takes us further from the real things in life. Those small, yet priceless things like going for a late brunch with friends or attending your kid’s school play. Accomplishments may be what define us in public. But for our family, friends and loved once us is what defines us. At his memorial service, Steve Jobs’ sister chose to focus not on his extraordinary, game changing achievements in technology, but on his essence as a person, and talked about him as a father, husband, brother, son and friend. This is what she says: ‘Steve worked at what he loved. What really moved him was love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods.’ And then she continues: ‘When Reed (his son) was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horse she adored.’ And this is how she finishes, with a heartwarming image: ‘None of us who attended Reed’s graduation will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing’. Now that’s what I call good life. It looks like one can have it all: be successful and powerful, and yet never loose the essence of life.
Being busy is not your life. Your job, salary or position is not what defines you. YOU are your life and the things that define you are in fact simple and often invisible: how happy you are, how much you love and how much you are being loved, how much soul-food do you consume or simply how long do you allow yourself to spend cherishing a breathtaking sunset.
And may I finish with a quote by Father Alfred D’Souza:
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”
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