Busyness as a Merit Badge

I ran into a friend the other day.

We exchanged typical pleasantries, discussed holiday plans, and when I asked how they were doing, I received the standard answer Americans glibly recite:

Oh, I’m so busy!

I’ve offered the same platitude more times than I’d like to admit.

Busyness has become a hallmark of our time.  A pledge pin.  A merit badge.  Equating busyness with status and significance comes naturally.  I’m in demand.  People need me.  I am important!

I know from personal experience.

This kind of thinking runs contrary to a life well lived.  A false doctrine holding captive our time and attention.

Work is a gift.  Yes, a gift.  We ease into a natural life rhythm when we’re working, providing, contributing to the greater good, and putting our God-given talents and abilities to good use.

Like any gift, though, work can be easily abused when it supplants other vital areas in our life.  Family.  Friends.  Leisure time.  Volunteerism.

There are honest, hard-working people living paycheck to paycheck in an effort to simply survive.  I get that.  I’m not referring to those doing everything they can to keep a roof over their head and food on the table.

I am referring to the folks who are on a quest for something unattainable through work alone.  No amount of money, power, or prestige can replace a healthy work-life balance.  Long-term satisfaction is not earned that way.

Don’t mistake activity for achievement
– John Wooden

Busyness is not synonymous with productivity.  It doesn’t validate our being.  Nor is it a substitute for meaningful contribution.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with busyness.  But, a wide gap exists between busyness and laziness.  We’ve confused hard work with work-a-holic.  Like they’re one in the same.  In reality, the former is healthy while the latter can be damaging.

Our lives are not marked, not defined by how far or fast we can charge on a single tank of gas.  We’re not at our best when we burn the wick at both ends.  There are things we need to thrive.

Rest.

Slow.

Connection.

These are essential.

Taking a break, sleeping in, saying no to someone’s request…..these aren’t crimes worth feeling guilty over.  Actually, they’re empowering.

In this season of disruption to typical routines, don’t fight the discomfort of a reduced pace.  Be at peace with the break.

What can you learn from the next few weeks?

Follow Tim on Twitter @Tim_G_Holland

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