(This is part one of a multi-part series on doing less. Get on the list to get the next installment right in your inbox.)
It’s recently come to my attention that I have a habit of, or perhaps even an addiction to, proving my worth through constant activity.
This habit has been on my radar for some time, but only vaguely.
Within the last six months, however, my awareness has gone from vague to crystal-clear.
BUT BEFORE I DIVULGE MY OWN PATH TO REALIZATION, I’M CURIOUS TO KNOW HOW MANY OF THESE STATEMENTS DESCRIBE YOU?
As much as you crave white space on your calendar it also gives you anxiety.
You notice yourself checking your phone obsessively throughout the day, particularly when you are tired, overwhelmed, or anxious.
More than once, a close friend or family member has said something about your compulsion to engage with your phone or computer and how it affects your relationship.
When someone suggests that you relax and do nothing, you say to yourself or out loud, “What the heck does that even mean? What do people do when they do nothing?”
When you do find yourself doing nothing, you feel guilty that you aren’t being productive.
You mentally tally the number of productive hours you’ve had at the end of the day and judge how you feel about yourself by how full your day was.
You find yourself “complaining” about how busy you are while simultaneously feeling proud of having so much on your plate that you can barely breathe.
You say that you’re too busy to meditate, move your body, nap, hang out with your girlfriends, make love, prepare healthy food for yourself, or go on dates (with yourself, your spouse, or new people).
If 3 or more of the above statements describe you, you’re addicted to busyness.
For me this addiction started long ago. Before I was even 10 years old, I used to map out my playdates and make sure I had something scheduled every day after school. I bought my first Day-Timer calendar when I was 14. In college, I was incredibly proud of the fact that I was taking more than the required course load, performing regularly with a dance company and in musicals, and starting my first business.
This is all to say that if you’re addicted to busyness, I feel you. Big time.
OBSESSED WITH BUSY
We live in a culture that celebrates being busy. We are obsessed with getting it all done and fitting it all in.
Our tendency to gorge ourselves on food is mirrored by our tendency to gorge ourselves on activity.
My wise uncle Phil said the following to me after he had a very vivid dream about me and my breakneck schedule:
“YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEARN TO STOP VALIDATING YOUR EXISTENCE THROUGH ACTION.”
That one hit me like a punch in the gut.
I’m outing myself here because what I’ve found is:
THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE IS NOT SO INDIVIDUAL. IF IT’S HAPPENING TO ME IT’S LIKELY HAPPENING TO YOU.
Here’s the thing:
How many meaningful conversations in the car with my husband have I not had because I was checking my email for the twentieth time that day?
How many breaths have become shallow from being caught in the spin of constant activity?
How many precious moments of stillness have I missed because I feared what might come up during the pause?
I’m practicing doing less. I’m sharing this practice with you because I bet you want to do less in order to feel and be more in your life too.
In the next installment of this series I’ll share specific ways I’m finding space to do less in my life. I’m really looking forward to hearing your ways too.
FOR NOW, LET’S BOTH BE AWARE TOGETHER, SHALL WE?
We’re ambitious. That’s awesome.
We’re capable. Go us.
We know how to make sh*t happen. No doubt.
And our worth no longer needs to be proven through action.
Let us know our worth in simply being.
Let us know we’re enough because we are.
Let us begin to let down the burden of busy.
OVER TO YOU:
Which one of the “addicted to busyness” statements above best describes you? Are there any other habits of your addiction? Are you ready to lay it down with me?