Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why Do We Need To Be Busy?

I’ve been blogging since 2009 and I was surprised to find out that my most read article is the one I posted on 10/03/2010 entitled: Top 10 Reasons People Stay Busy. Last Sunday, I read an article by Tim Kreider in the NY Times (NYT July 1, 2012) called The “Busy” Trap. Mr. Kreider refers to the need to stay busy as a kind of hysteria that is self-imposed and not necessary or an inevitable condition of life.

Worse yet, we impose this kind of busyness on our children by over-scheduling them with planned activities and extra-curricular classes so much so that they have no unscheduled time. All this busyness has created a condition of little patience, addiction to constant stimulation and worst of all, a lack of creativity because of all the available distractions.

Technology and our hand-held devices are convenient tools that somehow by making us be available at all times to anyone we know and are connected to through the internet, are adding to the distractions. I am reminded of a recent trip to a carnival with my daughter and her friend. The sheer noise level was enough to drive me crazy. The visual, olfactory, and auditory super stimulation was more than my system could handle. I was glad I didn’t get on any of the rides, the kinetic forces would have pushed me over the edge.

And yet, the carnival is a good metaphor for the way we live our lives in these times. Interestingly, busyness seems to be a global phenomenon as long as you can afford to pay for all this over-stimulation. In other words, the wealthy are over-stimulated and super busy all over the world.

Is this a desired condition? I don’t think we can think of the answer to this question because we don’t have time to think of such things! That’s the beauty of being busy, it leaves you exhausted and overwhelmed, so you don’t have to think. You don’t have to choose and you certainly can’t imagine.

I work as a transition coach for a major pharmaceutical company coaching their employees who are going through various kinds of transitions. Interestingly enough, most of the ones who are either retiring or losing their jobs, are most terrified of the day after they leave their jobs and wake up to nothing.

What would that be like? Is the silence deafening? How will I deal with it? They are scared of not being busy! Yes, it does sound a bit absurd, but it is a natural condition because their lives have been so busy that they are afraid of this unknown state of not being busy. What helps my clients is talking to others who have gone through their transition and end up loving the time to think again and enjoy the silence. They all reflect back and wonder how they lived their lives being so busy. It seems unnatural and a little crazy.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Kreider’s article is in the Sunday Review section of the NYT under the subtitle of Anxiety. Over time, if busyness is untreated and unresolved, it may lead to anxiety. It is similar to the hamster in a wheel, running and running and going nowhere. When you are hyper-extended and over busy, you cannot feel satisfied and fulfilled. You are in a state of constant searching or running either to or from yet another imaginary state.

If you are too busy to enjoy your life or have forgotten how to prioritize what matters, you may want to work with a spiritual life coach. Spiritual life coaching is about re-discovering what truly matters to you and then making the choices that get you to the state you want to be in. Contact me for a complimentary 30 minute coaching conversation to determine if you’d like to work with me.