You know you've said it. Someone asked you how you're doing and you reply, "I'm good! Busy, but good." I tested this hypothesis in possibly the most obvious place. A coffee shop. I sat with my coffee and positioned myself near the entrance where couples or groups of people met before ordering their drinks. Over HALF of the people greeted each other this way, almost verbatim. Nobody ever said, "not great actually, I'm feeling busy and it's killing me" or "I'm great and so well rested". Have you ever said these things? Be honest. Let me tell you, I am very uninterested in the "I'm good, busy, but good" as a way to live my life and I really want you to consider if you want to live that way as well. You have a choice!
Listen to this use of the sandwich method in the response to "how are you doing?" - start with something positive, put something in the middle that is not great, and then put another layer of positive on it. Mmm.... a sandwich with a pill in it that is hard to swallow. Reminds me of how we give animals medicine! Wrap it up in something that will fool them into eating it! Uff. Is that what we're doing? Kidding ourselves, swallowing the busy wrapped up in some artisan bread?
Allow me a moment to dissect the word busy. Here are two ways that it can be used:
adjective: having a great deal to do. "he had been too busy to enjoy himself"
verb: keep occupied. "she busied herself with her new home"
Busy is doing. It is a constant doing. It is a doing that takes over everything else and seems to be a way that people perpetually live. Why? Where is this coming from? We have been mesmerized by the grind culture. We believe that we need to be constantly hustling to demonstrate our worth. Acting like machines that are always on and always working toward some level of productivity that is measured by the amount of money you make, the number of emails you answered, and the number of activities completed in a 24 hour period. Sadly, we don't see sleep or rest as productive or helping us with our hustle, so we suffer and ignore it because we've got things to do! How's that working out? Let me be clear. I am not immune to this. Ask my husband. He has seen my to do lists and how I have tried to cram in one more thing into the container of the day. I have realized this and acknowledge that it's actually easier to busy myself than to give myself permission to not do. I automatically go to - if not me, then who will do all of these things?! I must forge ahead! Keep my nose down and go. Well, as I've written before I went through a time when I just worked non-stop between a full time job and tending to the needs of my growing family. I knew time for myself was important to my sanity so I would steal away time in the form of running because that was the only way I could really be by myself, I thought. I needed to leave the house and just run. It was an escape from the constant demands. However, I didn't really realize that I was just creating more demands on myself by stressing my body physically and judging myself the whole while. There was never a reprieve from judgment. I thought I could outrun it, out work it, out DO it. The judgement and expectations of myself kept growing, not shrinking. I was never satisfied. I couldn't sustain it.
I do understand that there are people that live in circumstances that require them to essentially be more than one person. They work multiple jobs, take care of children, their dwellings, and still struggle to make ends meet. This is not okay. There is something wrong. We are making life worse for everyone when we promote constant work and doing in our own lives and then expect that of others. Stop expecting it of yourself. Stop expecting it of others. We have grown out of tune with what our bodies need. We don't stop to pay attention or take notice until it is screaming at us with an illness or possibly even disease. When you live long enough without ease in your life, you create dis-ease. We all work hard and think we're doing the right thing because this is the cultural narrative that is the loudest. I suggest we do something different. Tricia Hersey from the Nap Ministry is all about pushing back on the hustle. She talks about rest being a form of resistance to capitalism and white supremacy. We need to collectively take a stand and resist the culture and media's sentiment of rest when you're dead. We need to rest now. Only by resting now and honoring space for being rather than doing will we create a culture that respects every body and recognizes rest as vital and necessary.
Look at your calendar for the day, for the week, and for the month. Where can you deliberately carve out time for non-doing? I don't mean watching a movie or Netflix or going out for drinks. You can still do those things, but I encourage you to look for time to sit in silence. Even if you start with a couple of minutes a day between your "must dos", look outside a window or GO outside and look up at the sky. You could go for a walk and count the birds or just listen to all the sounds. Set no expectations. You could also take a nap, meditate, practice yoga, yoga nidra, journal, draw, focus on your breath, or pet an animal.
I am feeling most drawn to yoga nidra (yogic sleep) myself right now. I have been practicing consistently for over a year and am currently diving deeper through a teacher training so that I can embody it even more as I guide others in the practice. It is remarkably beautiful and transformative. If you'd like to learn more or try this practice out with me, I'd be honored.
I'll conclude with what I heard as I was packing up my computer to leave the coffee shop. One of the baristas was handing a customer their coffee and said "sorry, I'm running on 4 hours of sleep". I had to wonder if he would have dared made a comment if he had had 8 hours of sleep. Do we wear our lack of rest as a badge of honor? Considering the detrimental health effects from lack of sleep alone, it is time to be the voice of a new narrative. A narrative that values human beings.
Please know that there are other options to being busy. You are so much more than your to do list. It might seem unlikely, but in truth - you can live a very full life without doing so much. I dare say your life will actually be more rewarding when you make space for being. You are worthy, you are loved and these are not tied to your production. You are not a machine. You are a spirit having a human experience. You are a remarkable wave in the ocean - both a form separate from the ocean, but also a part of it. You are vast and filled with abundance and there is nothing external to you that will make that bigger and better. You already are.