Think You’re “So Busy?” Think Again.

Anxiety by Brecht Vandenbroucke

“I’m so busy… I never have any time for myself… Relax? What is that?”

Sound familiar? I’m sure it does, because at some point we all have probably thought something along those lines.

In the article “The Busy Trap” by Tim Kreider, Kreider brings up some great points regarding the whole notion of “business” within our society.

#1. “The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. “

Isn’t this quite the interesting notion? Most people would probably argue that society has “forced” us to be so busy. Yet, Kreider is completely on target with the fact that the only person to blame is ourselves, not society. Society have provide certain environmental guidelines, but history has shown us again and again that it is up to the individual to abide by the conditions around them.

#2. “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

In The Shawshank Redemption, the famous quote from Tim Robbin’s character Andy Dufresne is: “Get busy living. Or get busy dying.” With our topic being about the whole notion of being “busy,” it’s kind of ironic that “busy” is the primary verb of the popular quote. Yet if we think about Kreider statement, it becomes apparent that many people do not realize that there are different types of busyness.

The type of busyness that Kreider focuses is on is the one that most people choose to occupy themselves with. It is generally full of noise and action, but very often there is nothing to show at the end of the day.

The type of busyness that Andy Dufresne talks about is one that is full of purpose where each action has an overarching goal behind it. This is the type of busyness that we should be occupying our time with, not the normal busyness we so often find ourselves spending time on.

#3. “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

Case and point. Sleep.

Even the most brilliant minds of our time require space and time away from their work. In fact, just as Euclid leapt out of his bathtub and went running naked down the streets when he discovered a new physical law, these times of peace and quietness are often where a good deal of our inspiration and innovation comes from.

In the end, do you want to recall your life as one gigantic blur of actions? Does it not strike you as odd that we work so hard for a “successful” career in hopes that we can “one day” actually “live” our life? I think the Dalai Lama summed it up the best when asked what surprised him most about humanity:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

The word “life” is akin to the word “live.” So why not live your life with a purpose that transcends the whole notion of being “so busy.”

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6 responses to “Think You’re “So Busy?” Think Again.”

  1. Dingle Fairy says :

    As of right now, I am not a busy person. It has been so long that whenever I get invited to go out, I decide to stay home. My outgoingness has been replaced with the comfort of staying in. It is a bad funk and I need to get out of it. Regardless, I agree. When I was busy or not, I used to blame on other things like work, school, or fam. Wish I didn’t now.

    • Ben says :

      Well the key thing is that we make that change going forward. And the next time I’m in town, you and I will hit up all the best food joints we can in celebration of this new found philosophy. I need to move to SF!!!

  2. butterflyxwings says :

    I really love this Dalai Lama quote! Thank you for posting it. It will be something to think about and model my life on.

    • Ben says :

      I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I do! It definitely helped to put things in perspective for myself as well, so I’m happy it will do the same for you!

  3. Josey Schwartz says :

    I just realized that the WordPress app didn’t publish my comment! As an existentialist I really really enjoyed this post. I love the graphic and the quotes, too! Really nicely done Benjamin.

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