The Disease of Being Busy

The Disease of Being Busy


By Becky Mansfield

Last year, I read an article titled The Disease of Being Busy by Omid Safi. I came across that article again this week and it spoke to me. To quote from this article:

“I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”

Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”

The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.

After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time, it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.

How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?”

So, Mickey and I decided we weren’t going to try to keep up in the world… and we didn’t want to teach our kids to be that busy either. We were going to LIVE life because it is enjoyable, fun, wonderful and amazing when you live it right. Yes, life is busy, but we don’t have to make it even busier. We can try to scale back.

I think about my grandma: she raised four kids at home…

She and my grandpa had one car that they shared. Her days were filled with laughter from her children – games that they played together, housework, cooking and love. She was one of the happiest, most grateful people that I have known.

Yes, my grandma had to do more work because she didn’t have the technological innovations that we have now that give us the ability to do more… faster. But what really happens? We do more… all the time. We get X done faster, so we have time to add Y and Z.

I want to remind myself (and you) to just take a step back and think about how we are living our lives. We need to be “more than just a machine, checking off items from our to-do list.”

We need to be involved with our family – playing games, baking cookies, building with blocks, practicing word spelling, teaching the new math tricks, or just sitting and talking. And we need to just BE. Be in the moment. Be relaxed. Take a bike ride if you want… or don’t… but do what you want to do today.

Talk to your family. Just sit and talk. Teach them patience and listening skills by having conversations with them.

I want our kids to play, to laugh, to come up with ways to entertain themselves, to dream and hope, to set goals for themselves, to enjoy spending time with us. I want to create a home that they will want to come home to.

I don’t want to be so busy that I forget to just ENJOY LIFE and I certainly don’t want to teach them to be that busy. When we cut out all of the extra stuff, we find that we have time for the normal day-to-day stuff, like spending time with our family, cleaning our house, cooking our meals, spending time on that project we’ve been wanting to do, or just sitting down to read a great book.

It starts with us. Today, put your to-do list aside and just BE. Do what makes you happy today. Do what makes you smile.

OH, and if you do need help around the house (because housework can pile up), ask your kids to get involved. This is my little trick that WORKS WONDERS for getting our kids to WANT to help around the house. It teaches them the important life lesson of work before play and it also teaches them about balance, so I am a huge fan of it. It’s worked for us for quite some time and I’m sure we’ll be using this method for years to come.


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