Lots of people say they are ‘busy.’ We say it and hear it all the time.
“How was your week?” your friend asks.
You sigh. “Oh, busy,” you respond.
Yet we all have the same amount of time every day, every week, every year. We are all working with same twenty-four hours. So what’s the difference between not busy and busy and why are so many people ending up on the latter end of the spectrum?
There was an article published in the New York Times that posits ‘busy’ is really a form of societal ego-stroking. We associate busyness with productivity, title, and importance.
But the adjective also goes beyond a cultural boast. We use the term to differentiate between activities we enjoy and do not enjoy. If we spend the day doing yoga, meditating, and reading a book, we are not busy. But if we spend it catching up on emails, projects, and meetings, we are busy. But what if we learned to enjoy our work, and in fact, all of our activities? Could we be busy enjoying life?
We also connect the term with speed. If you remember your fifth grade science lesson, you know speed is how far something travels in a known amount of time. So while we often view it as how much work we can get through in a certain span of time—a day or a week—there actually is no known span of time for our lives. And time itself is infinite. This wisdom is beautifully captured in an old Central American proverb: Hay mas vida que tiempo, There is more time than life.
The real difference then is not what we are doing, how much we are doing, or how much time we have to do it. Busy is really a state of mind. Busy happens when we resist the task in front of us because we feel rushed to get to what is next. It is when we are unable to fully accept and enjoy the present moment.
So instead of being busy, try being calm, serene, and free. Be fully engaged in each moment no matter what you are doing. You may not be able to choose all of your activities, but you can still choose to enjoy them. You can decide whether or not you want to be busy.
And next time when your friend asks you, “How was your week?” You can say “wonderful.”