"How are you?" says any polite Westerner in small talk. "Busy," says the counterpart.
Busy, busy, busy.
The response is horribly frequent and a common default. The problem is that "busy" unfortunately has two negative holds on our lives: 1) it defines the chaotic, unconscious manner in which we are racing, and 2) it attaches such negative vibes to all our actions, even the ones that could/should be joyful.
First, busyness is almost a badge of honor many people like to wear. If you aren't busy then your life isn't productive or interesting enough. Similar to this, is the workplace conversations about how overworked and exhausted we are. I worked x number of hours last week and only slept x number of hours, and I am just trying to get to the weekend. Is this how we want to look back and describe our lives? Is this lifestyle bringing us joy, peace, satisfaction, health, or whatever other positivity, we are looking for?
Second, "busy" has such negative energy. It almost has to be said with a huge sigh afterwards. Between work, family, play, self, etc., etc., most Westerners lives could be defined as "busy." But what if we started using different phrases, such as "full and meaningful," or "colorful and adventurous," wouldn't the energy shift from one defined by a sigh and resentment to one defined by a smile and delight?
I used to be the "busy" girl. Then I became sick of my own grouchiness and exhaustion, and knew there had to be more to life. Once I got clear about my values and realized that they were NOT aligned with my actions, I made changes. I could understand that my desire to be valued, achieving and focused had allowed me to push for so many years, but my more essential desire to be a vibrant, connected, loving human being were being railroaded by exhaustion, unconscious living and corporate needs! Ugh!
Living a value-guided life is like using a compass, or even Google maps, on an untrodden adventure; it gets us going in the right direction. None of us have lived our lives before, so would you rather aimlessly wander a busy life or intentionally adventure a delightful one?
If I can help you give up "busy," let me know!