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Busy by Default
Most of us are quite familiar with busy-ness.
While we want full, flourishing lives, we often don’t recognize when we have gotten past the point of being full — when we do and have too much. And this “doing and having too much” leads to a lot of busy-ness.
BUSY Has Become Our Default
Unlike electronics that come to us with default settings already programmed somewhere in the middle (and which we often can easily change to our preference), as humans, we’ve conditioned ourselves with our own human default setting for doing. And for so many of us that setting is cranked up to 11: BUSY.
Busy is our way of cramming as much into a day as we possibly can — the shoulds and have-tos, and maybe even a few want-tos, if we’re not too... busy. ;-)
Busy can also become how we cope with what is hard or challenging. When busy is the norm, it’s easy for us — as we innately avoid what we perceive as a threat or painful or hard — to escape into busy mode.
Busy can allow us to not attend to what we need to attend to. We migrate toward busy because it’s what we know. It’s how we’ve trained ourselves. And, while it may be exhausting, it’s the exhausting we know. It’s what we’re used to.
Because busy is the trained default for so many of us (and we are damn good at training ourselves, aren’t we?), it can be incredibly challenging to retrain ourselves to a default that better serves us. As with any important change, we have to decide that “busy by default” is not how we want to continue, and we have to start taking action to do something different.
Changing Our Default Mode
I do want to acknowledge that there are going to be as many ways out of “busy as default” mode as there are those of us who have gotten ourselves into it. There is absolutely no one right way to start shifting to a new default.
Rather than offer you several different ideas for how you might try to take steps to change your busy-by-default mode, I am going to give only one suggestion. It’s entirely up to you to decide if you want to give it a try:
Block 30 minutes on your calendar every day for the upcoming week and label that time: Alone.
What happens during this Alone time is this: absolutely nothing. This is a time set aside specifically to do the opposite of busy.
You either sit or walk for 30 minutes and do nothing else. You don’t make phone calls. You don’t check your email. You don’t put away the dishes. You don’t research what stove to get to replace the broken one in your kitchen. You don’t read. (Yes, this is pretty much the solitude I spoke about a while back.)
I fought with myself about making this a longer post and giving you so many other ideas, explaining myself, the science, what this can do for you, etc. (I have lots of other ideas written about this and may share them at a later time to go deeper.)
I think the truth is though that if this speaks to you in this moment, you know it — and are probably more busy than you want to be. ;-) So let’s get to making the change.
The ball is in your court. Do you want to accept the challenge?
Are you ready to take a step towards a new default? I know it is not necessarily going to be easy, but perhaps it leads to a default that’s more spacious, fulfilling, calm, holistic, healthy, and joyful. And isn’t that the kind of full, flourishing life we’re after, really?