The Glorification of Busy

[This is a guest post by my friend and colleague, Julia Sarver of Health Coach Uprising.]

I’ve been secretly listening in on conversations people are having.
And I’ve noticed a trend: everyone is convinced that they are so busy – more so than the next person. It seems that somehow, as a culture, we’ve all agreed that this busy-ness is a sign of status, a positive thing in our lives.
​​​​​​​I have to say, I’m not convinced. I mean, I certainly like to be productive, and to tackle my to-do list. But being busy? I’m not sure it’s quite what it’s cracked up to be.

​​​​​​​Here are examples of the conversations I’ve overheard recently, mostly in the grocery checkout lane:

​​​​​​​“How are you?”


​​​​​​​“What are your plans for today?”

“I have lots on my plate. I’m just so busy!”

​​​​​​​“What have you been up to?”

​​​​​​​“Oh, we are just so busy! Life is crazy.”

​​​​​​​The frequency of seeing “busy” as a reply to a state of being got me thinking.

​​​​​​​When did being so busy turn into a competition? And, more importantly, why do we want to win?

​​​​​​​I realized I was in a game that I really didn’t want to win. I don’t want to be so busy that I don’t have the time and freedom to be with my friends and family, to have downtime. And I don’t want to feel stressed all the time.

​​​​​​​Recently, my family and I went to dinner with friends. Their lives are similar to ours: they have a young toddler, both parents work, and one travels regularly for work. My friend and I were having one of those broken conversations one has when young children are around. We got to talking about schedules and how hard it had been for us to find a time to get together. I said something about how we were just too busy, and she responded with:

​​​​​​​“Yes, life is full.”

​​​​​​​I was dumbstruck. I know her life is absolutely nuts, but her approach to handling it was so much better than mine. In her eyes, life was full, not crazy. Now, when I’m asked how I’m doing, I always reply with, “Life is full.” It’s a gentle reminder. ​​​

​​​​​​​Even though the actual day to day activities of my life haven’t shifted that much (because, let’s face it: I still have to do a lot of laundry and get a healthy meal on the table most days), this simple re-frame has really shifted my emotional well-being.

​​​​​​​I realized that I don’t want a busy life. But I do want a full life.

​​​​​​​And when you think about it, don’t we all want full lives? Who wants a chaotic life? Who really wants to reflect back on their life and think, “Boy, I sure was busy!” 

​​​​​​​I love the idea of instead thinking, “I have lived a full life,” and letting the “busy” fade away. 

What about you? Are you caught up in the busy-ness trap? What are your thoughts on re-framing and focusing on a life that’s full instead? 

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