Have you ever noticed that when you fill your body with only whole, clean foods, you feel surprisingly full quickly? This is because when you focus on giving your body only what it needs, it stops craving things. We have “cravings” when eating empty foods because our bodies are signaling to us that they are still lacking something. Our bodies will continue to asking for what they need until they are given true nourishment.
So it is true with all of life. We will crave what we need until we find true nourishment. This is why we continue to fill our lives with continually more. We stay busy; work, kids, socializing, errands, keeping house, family obligations, commitments, classes. We wear this “busyness” like a badge of honor, all while wondering why we still can’t satisfy that underlying craving.
This post titled, A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy, by Joshua Becker on Becoming Minimalist, wonderfully and simply points out that being busy is a choice. Far too often we lament that we’re busy as if it were a burden we just can’t shake. “I’m just so busy,” we sigh, while slowly shaking our heads and shrugging. As if this is a universal understanding we can all empathize with. And maybe we largely can.
The only person making you so busy, is you.
No one grabbed your planner, or your Google calendar, and filled it in for you. No one signed you up to bring two dozen home-made cookies to your child’s school fundraiser, no one forced you into hosting a dinner party for your husband’s colleagues and their spouses next weekend, and no one is making you interview for that promotion you don’t even want.
Sometimes, we even fall prey to the priorities of others. This is because we’re failing to find clarity of our own priorities. We’re afraid to say “no” to an invitation to lunch, or to doing a last-minute favor for a friend who didn’t plan accordingly. We’re afraid that saying no to someone we care about means we’re rejecting them as a person, when in reality, what we’re doing is choosing our own priorities over theirs.
It’s not surprising that “self-care” has now worked its way into our language as a cultural norm; we’re all in desperate need of some. I would advise taking self-care to another level. Beyond physically nurturing ourselves when we feel sick, or overwhelmed or stressed, or on the verge of snapping, why not practice self-care by un-busying our lives?
Most of us can all agree that we’d love to get out of the rat race. That we’d love to stop keeping up with the Jones’. But this can be down right terrifying. What does it really mean to consciously un-busy your life? What will that look and feel like?
The first order of business is taking back your control.
You are in charge of you. You will need to realize that the way your life looks is because of a long series of choices you have made. There have been trade-offs, decisions, routines, reactions, belief systems, activity and inactivity, all leading up to whom and what you are today. But never lose sight of the fact that you created this reality all on your own, and you will continue to do so.
This is good news.
This means that moving forward, you have the choice to create your life in such a way that it can look however you want it to. Are you going to have some familial, financial and social obligations? Absolutely. We are always going to live with some consequences because of our past choices, and some things we were born with or born into. However, it is well within your realm of control to give up the competition, the comparisons, the one-upping and the things that stroke your ego.
Start by asking yourself why you are so busy. Why do you have such a full calendar? What are the things that suck your time, and how do those fit into your goals for your life? Are you busy doing things you think you “should” do, but don’t enjoy? Ask yourself if those are your goals, or someone else’s idea of what your goals should be.
Do you spend a fair amount of time on escapism; watching too much television, internet surfing, video games? This doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t busy and have all kinds of free time, sometimes it means that you’re plenty busy, but that you’re avoiding what you’ve committed to doing because you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
Have you filled your life with things that impress other people but cost a lot of time and money to maintain? Do you make plans with people you don’t really enjoy spending your time with, but they’re the “right kind of people” to have in your life because of what they can do for you? Do you fear turning people down because they “may not like you anymore” if you say no? Do you feel guilty for having unproductive, unscheduled time?
Examine these questions carefully. Examine how fulfilling your life is. Are you existing, or living? With all this busyness, there is so much life you’re not living. What are you going to regret?
I’m excited because this year on Mrs. Jones Could Use a Beer, we are going to take a harder look at the crazy comparisons we make, the competitions we silently and subconsciously enter, the over-worked, over-indulged lives we’ve created, and the busy, messy, unorganized spaces and bodies we occupy. We are going to work to simplify, organize, clear and clean our minds, bodies and homes. We are going to unpack our reasons for competing rather than collaborating, and we are going to work on action plans to improve relationships with our friends, spouses and children, as well as tangible ways to stop keeping up with Mrs. Jones. You can still count on plenty of humor and crazy stories from me. And I expect to keep hearing from you about all the wonderful things that make you beautifully flawed, imperfect humans.