Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Business of Unbusying Myself

A few days ago I read a blog by Tyler Ward that has stuck with me, gnawing at the edges of my mind as I've waded back into the chaos of post-holiday life. I don't know who Tyler Ward is but his thoughts on busyness resonate with me, so much so that I feel compelled to add my two cents to this conversation.

Although I've done this myself, more than I'd like to admit, I have long felt that answering the standard, "How are you?" greeting with a trite "busy" was a self-important cop-out to avoid engaging in a real conversation. It effectively shuts down any real hope of conversation and reduces the exchange into a comparison of who has the busier life. When the greeter and greeted both complete their lists of busyness, there is usually a moment of uncomfortable silence before they awkwardly bow out of the interaction and return to their busy lives. Often times, in the midst of the busyness there is an overwhelming sense of loneliness because to-do lists have replaced togetherness.

After reading Mr. Ward's blog and then looking at the mountain of emails, projects and to-do lists waiting for me on my desk I had to ask myself is being busy is all that it's cracked up to be?

The short answer?


And we all know it. We all know, deep down, that busyness is no where near as fulfilling as friendship, community and purpose. The day to day tasks that overwhelm us and numb us to the simple pleasure of being are a shadow compared to the joy and satisfaction that comes with living an authentic, meaningful life. But how do we find meaning? How do we know where to put our energy to find fulfillment instead of mere busyness?

Look at your life. What are the five things you give the bulk of your time to? Be honest and don't cop out by saying 'family' or 'work'. Be specific. Do you run a lot of errands? Do you watch a lot of TV? Do you work a lot of extra hours? Are you a dedicated kid chauffeur?

Make your list and then think about it. Really THINK.

A while back I saw this little graphic on Pinterest that was meant to apply to the words we speak but as I looked at it again I felt that it could also be applied to how we spend our time. So, look at your list and ask yourself ...

Is it TRUE to who I am? Does this item reflect my values and character?
Is it HELPFUL to me and those around me? Am I really adding to the solution or am I just keeping busy to feel that I have value in this situation?
Is it INSPIRING me to do more, to be more or is it exhausting me? Am I energized or drained by this activity?
Is it NECESSARY? Is this a task that must be done or is it a time suck that is stealing you away from something more vital and productive?
Is it KIND to you? Does this bring life, rest, inspiration or relaxation to you? Is this something that adds to your life and sense of worth or does it detract from you?

If you answered 'no' to any of these questions in relation to your list ask yourself whether the list is the problem or your attitude toward it.I'll bet you that you can already see where changes can be made, where you can trim some busyness and add something that is True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind to your day to day life.

Think, start small, be consistent and, above all, put relational ships above busyness - you won't be sorry!

Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.

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