Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

I saw an acquaintance the other day in the grocery store that I haven't seen in awhile. When I asked how she was, she responded "Busy.....just really busy." This answer is one of my pet peeves. I ask how you are and you say busy? When I think "busy" I imagine someone running around frantically trying to do ten things at once. Not someone casually pushing a cart in the pasta aisle of the grocery store.

One of my favorite books is Amy Krouse Rosenthal's "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life". Her book is a hilarious, thought provoking view of the mundane and interesting observations of the moments in her life. By page 45 I was in "friend love". The book is set up as an encylopedia and right there on page 45 is an entry about "Busy". I identified with so many of her thoughts that if she lived in my neighborhood, I would be stalking her until she fell in friend love with me....or took out a restraining order. But I'm pretty sure she would love me too.

Amy shares a few interactions where the responses are always busy. She goes on to suggest that surely there are more original ways to answer the question "How are you?". Things like "I'm hungry for a waffle" or "I'm itchy". I'll be honest...I don't want to know that you are itchy but I wouldn't mind hearing "I am great - I just came from the gym and I feel great". Maybe that will inspire me to get out and exercise. "Busy" doesn't inspire me to do anything.

Amy nails it right on the head when she says "I am busy is the short way of saying - suggesting - my time is filled, my phone does not stop ringing, and you (therefore) should think well of me". Let's be honest, we are all busy. I'm not sure when this merry go round got cranked up, but we are all on it and have been for some time. You aren't any different than anyone else. And being "busy" doesn't make you popular. News flash....no one equates your busyness with your popularity level. We aren't in high school anymore, people.

I heard a quote once that I loved... "You are only as busy as you make yourself". So true. I think this can be translated two ways, the first being that you should just stop overscheduling and overcommitting yourself. First, stop running your kids ragged with extracirrucular activities and stop saying yes to things you don't even want to do. Life is short. Fill it with the things you want to do that make you happy. Okay, sure, sometimes, we have to go to the dentist but stop filling up your precious time with those things that don't put a smile on your face. On Sunday night when you are reflecting on the week that just passed and planning the upcoming week, when you are undoubtedly feeling overwhelmed by all that you have to fit in, use your happiness gauge to determine what you can strip out of your week to turn it from "busy" to meaningful.

Another way I look at "busyness" is that it's all in the approach. In my opinion, your view of life is either half empty or half full. Which are you going to choose? When my week is crazy because it is filled with the things I feel are worthy of my time (with a few obligations sprinkled in there), I don't approach it with dread and it doesn't feel like a chore. Even if your week is filled with more obligations that activities that you choose, you are in control of the attitude with which you approach those moments. Why end the day feeling miserable and overwhelmed when, instead, you can reflect on the moments during the day that made you laugh, made you think, made you happy?

So, the next time someone asks you how you are, think about it before you answer. Answer honestly. If you are itchy and you want to share that, well, okay then. Just don't say that dirty two word answer, "I'm busy".

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