It is no secret that the American culture seems to put more weight on being “busy” than being happy. When you ask someone how they are, there are a handful of socially acceptable answers that you are likely to hear:
“So busy”, “CRAZY busy”, “working a ton”, “work is non-stop”, “good, keeping busy”, “always on the run”…Etcetera, so forth and so on…
There is a (false) illusion that by insisting you are busy, people will hear that you are important. A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review in which they confirm the busyness trend and it has been found that when you are in the busyness “tunnel”, your IQ goes down an average of 13 points! In order to fight against this harmful trend, researchers suggest that we all need to be more open with our free time (such as lunch breaks, self care time, vacation, etc.) both in our discussions, on shared calendars and on social media.
It seems to be increasingly more common for employees to be available 24/7…with multiple cell phones and e-mail being delivered around the clock…. personal time has taken on a negative connotation. COVID quarantine of 2020 allowed more flexibility and allowed people to work from home which was great AND it also reinforced the idea that employees are available around the clock. We get a sense of validity from being able to say we are in demand at all hours of the day and night. We live in a world that seems to suggest that taking personal time is a failure. We live in a time frame in which we’ve internalized the belief that saying “no” or “I cannot do that right now” are grounds for being fired! What we are turning a blind eye to (as a culture) is that the problem of “being busy” is typically serving the purpose of masking anxieties and feelings of inequality and is a recipe for complete burnout!
The pressure to be busy starts at earlier and earlier ages. So many parents that I have encountered discuss the pressure to have their children in multiple activities starting in infancy! It seems that kids are in private lessons, select sports and working with private coaches at younger and younger ages. What’s wrong with a kid being good at…one thing? Or even nothing?! (GASP!!!)
What is wrong with being “okay” with the life that we have…to be proud of our NORMALCY and average-ness?
I must say, I too fall into the urge to tell everyone just HOW busy/chaotic/rushed my life is. When asked, there is a push pull between the truth (I am content…) and the desire to exaggerate. We need downtime for our sanity, this is nothing to be ashamed of! I hope that one day we can adopt the Italian mindset that downtime indicates a higher status lifestyle!
Call to action:
- Can you schedule some down time with no goals and no expectations?
- Can you be present enough to find gratitude for your normal-ness?
- Make a social media post about how grateful you are for the day-to-day aspects of your life.
- Try and practice for the next week!