For those of you who have followed my writings, I am always positive in my messages. I write The Gunn Show with the objective of creating original content with the intent of adding value to the lives of people who wish to read the blogs. In order to propose a new way of living, I do need to share my frustration with one area of human interaction.
Overheard at the water cooler at any and every office…
“Hey Jim, how are things?”
“Hey Susan, things are really busy!! I have the new project I am working on, two of my employees are off sick, my daughter plays soccer 7 times a week and I don’t even sleep anymore.”…and it goes on as Susan tries to slowly back out of the room.
Busy. Everyone is…busy. We wear it like a badge of honour and we let everyone know about it. I challenge you to document the response you get on the next 10 people you ask “how are things going?” I am willing to bet that between 3-6 people will reply with “busy”. Several of those people will proceed with unsolicited diatribe of all the things that are causing the “busy-ness”.
So why does it rub me the wrong way? This isn’t an academic blog so I am not going to cite Oxford dictionary but I interpret “busy” to mean occupied. But how strange would it be if for once someone asks you “hey, how are things?” and you reply “Man, I am occupied!”. No, busy for me is a meaningless word and one that people put out to either present a sense of importance (possibly due to a sense of insecurity) or just to fill uncomfortable chit chat. Hypothetically, I can be “busy” binge watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix and it can still meet the definition of the word.
One other thing I notice is who uses the word busy. I don’t usually hear it from C-suite executives balancing a lot of pressures, people with large families, single moms or dads struggling to make ends meet, people who volunteer a lot of their time or other people who lead incredibly full lives. Actually, I could probably draw an inverse relationship with the amount of priorities and dependents calling on one’s time and the frequency with which they use the term.
Busy doesn’t tell me how you are. Saying you are busy just tells me you are occupied and doing things (or not doing things with your time). It doesn’t tell me how satisfied you are or how in control of your time you are. Sure, we all have some things that are tough to not give our attention to, but many people are in positions to take control over their lives. When I ask someone how they are doing and they give me a 10 minute speech about their lives in an exhausted, defeated tone, I often think (sometimes say) “so why don’t you make a change?” and walk away (those who know me will nod with furrowed brow). Busy doesn’t equate with fulfillment or a life of satisfaction, the two can be mutually exclusive.
Only take on things in life that matter and slow the hell down. When someone asks you (or when you check in with yourself) how you are doing, why don’t you try one of these responses?
- “I have everything I need and I am enjoying my life.”
- “Everything is where I want it to be”.
- “Everything is under control man” (for those looking for less of an Eat Pray Love response).
- “I am great, how are you?”
My point is to start responding in meaningful ways about the quality of life, not the quantity of life tasks we choose to take on ourselves. We aren’t victims, we are in control of how we lead our lives. We can have lives of meaning, not merely lives of being “busy”.