People today equate being busy with being important; it’s like saying, “I matter.” If you’re not “crazy busy” people will think something is wrong with you.
Believe me, I can relate.
Brene´ Brown once posted this on her Facebook page: "It's so easy to buy into the idea that if we stay busy enough the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us. When they start having 12-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums." This clearly resonated with people. 1,183 people liked it and 80 people commented. I replied, "Great idea, but I might be too busy to go."
Busy has always been a good thing in my family. It means you're being productive. My family is of German descent, and I think it's a cultural thing. During weekly Sunday phone calls, my mother cheerily told me to "Have a productive day." In talking with another woman of German heritage, she said her mother said exactly the same thing! She also told me about a German word, sitzfleish, that refers to the virtual flesh that exists between one's behind and the chair. Figuratively, it describes the ability to persist in one's work, the patience that can endure anything, and the idea that work is more important than play.
I've certainly had a lot of sitzfleish in my life. I've prided myself on being able to plow through work and sit there until the job is done. And I'm not knocking the value of being able to keep your butt on the chair. It's a skill that has served me well over the years, especially spending oodles of study time earning a doctorate and pounding out four books.
That’s why, a year and a half ago, I began my self-compassion project. My problem with “busy” was that I took it too far. I didn’t know when to stop, take a break, get up from the computer, walk around, stretch, move, and even to breathe.
Ethan Nichtern, a popular Buddhist teacher, talks about the Tibetan concept of coemergence. He defines it as "the ability of any particular phenomenon or experience to manifest as either wisdom or confusion, helpful or harmful, a weapon or a prison. So busy is not good or bad, it's what we do with it.
I've never been good at finding balance in my life. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl. My husband teases me about it all the time. For example, when I want to change the thermostat in the house (and being a middle-aged woman that is about every five minutes), I ask him, "Are you hot or are you freezing?"
This weekend, the gorgeous weather called me to sit on the patio for hours watching the birds and planting flowers. It felt right. I didn’t need to be doing anything else. My self-compassion project has been “working.” I’m so much easier on myself; I don’t have to be working all the time.
I’m enough. I don’t have to prove anything with my accomplishments or being busy all the time. And you know what? The same goes for you!
To read more about my self-compassion project, click here.