Curing the "I'm so busy" Disease
There is an under-diagnosed disease sweeping the nation. I call it the “I’m so busy” syndrome. The saddest thing for me to see is that sometimes it’s worn like a badge of honor. I’ve heard folks sharing how much they did that week and how tired and stressed they are in what I interpret to be a proud and bragging sort of way.
What is the cause of this disease and how do we treat it?
We have all been raised in a culture that trains us to respond to reward and punishment. Spankings and gold stars, detention and blue ribbons, failing grades and honor roll, etc.
You have been told again and again in a thousand ways,
“You are a good person if you are always busy doing and achieving important things.”
The basic confusion that our worth as human beings is dependent on what we achieve and do is perpetuated again and again.
But, you might ask, isn’t it important to contribute to society, to do something meaningful with your life?
Yes, and here is the difference.
When achievement is a strategy to validate your self-worth you are like a hungry ghost. In Buddhism, the Hungry Ghosts are shown with enormous stomachs and tiny necks - they want to eat, but cannot swallow; when they try to drink, the liquid turns to fire, intensifying their thirst.When your sense of self-worth depends on achievement it will always be just out of reach awaiting the next achievement.
A true sense of your own self-worth does not come from what you achieve. It comes from a connection with your own heart which is the heart of the Beloved Divine.
When achievement arises out of heart felt needs for contribution, meaning, and purpose it is enlivening and it is naturally done in balance with other needs for rest, play, exercise, etc.
The antidote to workaholism and the “I’m so busy” syndrome is trusting and following the guidance of your own heart – wisdom, The Beloved, God (however you like to name this).
Sometimes the achievement jackal can get a hold of me. Here’s an example: “He gets more done than I do in day.” “I should be able to accomplish more. Maybe I should enter another degree program or work longer hours.”
Again and again I bring myself back to my heart. I come back each time to the same question: What makes my heart sing? What satisfies my soul? The Beloved guides me by filling me with a deep joy and satisfaction when I do what truly serves life, my life and the life others.
When I think of entering another degree program I feel a tightening and heaviness. When I think of spending a day counseling and coaching couples I feel a sense of joy and satisfaction. In this way this I let my heart guide me.
Take a moment now to look at what you have planned for your week. Go through each item one by one and notice how your heart responds. Is there a heaviness or tightening or is there a sense of joy and satisfaction?
For the items that give you a sense of heaviness, ask yourself what need you are trying to meet with that activity? Will it really meet that need? Is there another way to meet that need that would be more in accord with your heart’s longing?
Again and again come back to your heart.