Two men were sitting at the bar talking. The one man asks “Why do you drink so much?” The other man says “I drink to forget” to which the first man asks “What are you trying to forget?” to which the other man says “I don’t remember”. This is a very old joke, kind of a groaner yet it illustrates a reason why many people become addicted or become obsessive.

We live in a busy world. I hear people tell me everyday how busy they are and that they are too busy to do some of things that they know they should be/want to be doing. In today’s culture many people wear their “busy” like a Boy Scout wears a merit badge. I talk to busy people a lot throughout the day. When I ask how they are doing, they often tell me that they are very busy; they use expressions like “I am drinking from a fire hose” or “I am as busy as a one armed paper hanger”. For some the bouts of busy are simply parts of the ebbs and flow of life. For many though “busy” becomes like an addiction.

For the people who are addicted to being busy I find that they are often in this constant busy mode for a couple of reasons. One reason is that  like the man in the joke who drinks to forget the obsessively busy person stays busy because they also want to forget, they don’t want to slow down to the point where they have time to think about themselves or face their reality. In fact they often fear stillness for it is in their stillness that they may have to look within and they fear what they may discover.

Another reason that a person is perpetually busy is that they believe being busy equals being important. I worked with a person a few years ago who was always extremely busy and she used every opportunity to tell me and demonstrate to me and everyone else how busy she was. When you went into her office for a scheduled meeting, the meeting would constantly be interrupted by phone calls on her office phone, phone calls on her cell phone that were too important not to answer, emails that she just had to respond because they were “hot” and IMs from important people who she could not make wait. She let you know that she was important by how busy she was. Meetings with her were always rushed and unproductive because of all of the interruptions. She could have just as easily shut everything off for a few minutes however it was important for her to show other people how busy she was because in her mind busy equaled important. I have known many people who use being busy this way. I believe that this type of busy is often a cover-up for ones insecurity, that deep down they fear they are not important and that they must constantly be busy to be perceived as important. The interesting irony is that most people who are in this mode may be busy, however they are rarely efficient and rarely productive and they find themselves buried in a ton of incomplete tasks and they often do not find much joy in their journey.

Do you find yourself buried in busy? Do you find that you are excusing yourself from doing things that you need to do to take care of yourself? Do you use “I am too busy” to excuse your eating habits, your sleep patterns,  your inability to take time to meditate, your inability to find time to do the things that you love,  to  spend time with the people you love, etc?

If you answer yes to any of these questions than I encourage you to examine the “busy” in your life and to ask yourself why you are so busy. Ask what is the motivation behind your “busy”? Are you using your “busy” because you are avoiding something in your life? Are you using busy to promote your importance?

Reducing the “busy” in your life is very much like removing the clutter from your home. You will discover that there is much joy and freedom to be found when you are less busy plus you will create room to grow. Much like a cluttered house, when you are too busy you have very little room to grow.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life”

– Socrates


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