Does it seem like people are busier than ever before?
I just finished reading Bitter Brew, which is about the rise and fall of Anheuser-Busch and really the Busch family legacy. There were lots of interesting tidbits, but one was how the union at the turn of the 20th Century were fighting for a half-day off on Sundays.
Think about that…a half day was something they had to fight for. Otherwise it was 10-12 hour days seven days a week.
And that’s manual labor. I’m not saying that the work we do today isn’t difficult in similar and different ways, but reading that made me feel pretty good about the job life today.
But even outside of work it seems like people are busy.
We’re busy with kids. We’re busy with friends. We’re busy with this. We’re busy with that.
Why are we so busy?
One theory that’s been out there for awhile is that we keep ourselves busy because we don’t want to deal with our own negative thoughts. The more I look at myself and the more I look at a few others the more I think there is something to this theory.
Life Is Never As Bad Or As Good As It Seems
Getting laid off.
Making a bad purchase.
Missing a car payment.
None of those things are good. They make us feel bad. They embarrass us. They inconvenience us. But are they really as bad as they seem in the moment?
Life is rarely as bad as it seems in the moment. And on the flip side, life is rarely as good as it seems in the moment when something good happens.
When we’re busy I think we can get trapped in thinking that regular occurrences are worse or better than they really are. We don’t give ourselves time to deal with the reality of the situation. We don’t think things through.
Let’s say we miss a car payment.
When we’re busy we’ll get angry with ourselves. That feeling may sit in the back of our mind as we go through our busy tasks. But if we just took a few minutes to think about the situation, let the anger pass and figure out how to move forward then maybe we can more quickly move on from the situation and learn from it.
But we can’t do that unless we let go of being busy and get alone with our minds.
Dealing With Negative Thoughts
Bad things happen to good people.
Bad things happen to everyone.
I don’t really know anyone that hasn’t had something bad happen to them.
Death. Loss. Poor decisions. Etc.
And many of us worry. We worry about paying the bills. We worry about our next job or losing friends or anything.
To avoid that worry and negative thought we keep our minds active. We add more work to our lives. We add more tasks. Our minds stay busy and we can avoid thinking about the bad things that happen in life.
But if we give ourselves time to confront those bad thoughts we can work through them. We can grieve. We can cry. We can get angry. We can work through them and consider how they really affect our lives going forward.
Finding The Right Balance
So it turns out that life can get out of whack if we’re bored too. So the idea of being alone with our thoughts is good to a point especially if we’re filling out days with too many unnecessary tasks.
But don’t let it get too out of hand. Deal with the issues you have, but don’t get bored. It can apparently lead to wars. Or maybe the people that start wars are the ones that really need to keep busy and they’re running out of tasks to fill their day…
Final Thought: What’s Really Necessary?
Over the years and while researching this post I came across a few people that said that after taking more time to be alone with their thoughts that they also became enlightened about what was really important in life. Some figured out that they felt busy, but they watched two hours of TV each day. Some found that they were too busy to spend time with friends each week, but they always made time for reading tons of articles online or watching YouTube videos or playing games on their phones.
I can’t say what’s right or necessary for your life, but taking the time to slow down and look at your tasks and see if you can remove some things and open up some space in your week. We keep ourselves busy, but are we really keeping ourselves productive and happy?