This is a pretty hot button topic right now, and I’m far from the first person to weigh in on this particular issue. In fact, this New York Times article from way back in June 2012 is a great read on just what I’m about to expound upon, if you have a few minutes to spare.
So, when did it become a “thing” for people’s default answer to “How have you been lately?” become “Oh, you know, really busy.”
Or, “Oh, sorry I didn’t see your email for a few days. I’ve been so busy!” And, “Can’t make it to lunch for another 3 weeks, just crazy busy right now!”
I don’t doubt that you’re busy. In fact, I’m sure you’re just as busy as you say you are. I’m just wondering what it says about us, as a collective species (at least in America, anyway), that being “busy” seems to be something to be proud of, or that makes us feel legitimate in conversation with other people.
What worries me the most, though, is people who straight up “brag-plain” (as opposed to com-plain) about how busy there are: “Oh yeah, I’ve been working so much lately. I get in to the office around 7:30 a.m. most days and sometimes work straight until 10:00 at night!” Or “My friends have stopped inviting me to happy hour because of how busy I am with work” (both of these brag-plaining events are not made-up examples, by the way … they actually happened).
For real: Your “busy” is not a badge of honor. Your level of importance is not measured in how busy you are. (There’s a caveat to this that I’ll share below. Go with me for a minute.)
Because the common theme I see with most busyness goes something like this: “I’m unconsciously going through the motions,” or “I don’t know what I’d rather be doing,” or (and probably the hardest to witness) “I’m purposefully filling my life up with things that don’t mean anything to me, because if I’m not busy, I’ll have the time to face the fact that I have no idea what my life purpose is. And I might crumble if that happens.” Yikes.
If you’d like to cling to your “busy,” then please, carry on. But if you’d really like to escape the frantic, often meaningless, draining world that “busy” seems to live in, I’ve got something for you.
Why not aim for “meaningfully occupied”?
Contemplate that for a second.
Doesn’t that feel so much better?
And here’s where my caveat from earlier comes back in to play: If you’re truly dedicated to something you love, and if it fills you up and makes you feel all kinds of passion and energy, and you light up when you spend hours and hours on this thing, then YES, be busy!
Ultimately, though, even that kind of “busy” translates more into to “meaningfully occupied,” according to our new definition. There’s purpose, there’s energy, there’s excitement, there’s vision, there’s joy, there’s peace, there’s love.
“Busy” is something that happens to you, unconsciously. “Meaningfully occupied” is something that you choose, consciously and intentionally.
I don’t really care to be busy another day of my life. But I hope to be meaningfully occupied forever.
So, how does this new way of phrasing things resonate with you? Let us know!
Rachel (& Kristen)