Ask someone these days how they are and the universal answer is "busy". There are variations on this - super busy, crazy busy, really busy, SO busy. Super busy is even in the dictionary. But to me, whatever the variation, they all fall into the same category of the most overused words of this decade.
Foodie. Journey. Unique. Authentic. Amazing. BUSY.
Life is busy. It's true. We all work, either out of the home or in the home. We have family commitments, friendships to cherish. Hobbies to attend to. Exercise regimes to maintain. Play dates for our kids, or for our dogs. Sports and activities for the kids. The home needs looking after, cafes and restaurants need trying out, the farmer's market visited. New experiences to live. Learning new skills like making kokedamas or doing a fermentation class, learning the art of home brewing or throwing clay. But life has always had all of these activities. What has happened in the last decade that we now use a busy life as a badge of honour?
Rarely when you ask someone how they are do they say anything other than busy. And it such a boring answer.
I've found there are different levels in the force with which the word comes flying out of the mouth.
Some say it sheer exhaustion, almost as though they are losing the will to stay awake as each letter leaves their mouth. Some say it with automation, as though there's no thought in the answer, if they had to think about using any other word they probably wouldn't know what to say. And my favourite by far is the aggressive busy person. They shout the word out with such fervour that you are blown back ten paces. Scaring you into the corner, daring you to ask them another question, such as, god forbid, busy doing what? Proving (perhaps to themselves) that they are worthy of their existence because they are so busy.
It's something I have been noticing more and more lately. So I decided to answer the "how are you" question in any of its forms with anything other than "busy". And I noticed the most interesting thing. Replying with "I'm well thanks" or "business is good" almost seems to receive an empathic response, as though things weren't so good for me. Because surely, if things were great I would answer this question with "I'm so busy"? And be saying it proudly.
Words are powerful things. We believe them, they shape our thoughts and how we perceive ourselves. Oxford dictionary defines busy as "having a great deal to do". That automatically makes me feel tense, under pressure! Surely we can't be in a constant state of having a great deal to do? What if we replaced the word busy with something else. I've had a productive day rather than a busy day. That immediately feels as though I've accomplished things rather than feeling exhausted.
We keep ourselves constantly moving, surround by noise and visual stimulation.
With music pumping into our ears with headphones, and our mobiles glued to our hands. Any moment where we might just stop and breathe, we have to quickly check social media or emails in case there was something we missed. Even at traffic lights, or whilst actually driving. Remember on the train each morning going to work, most people would have a book in their hands, or a newspaper. Now so few do. It's phones everywhere. You can't walk down the street without having to side step people who have their faces buried in their phones and are about to walk into you.
Don't get me wrong, I am not preaching. Or judging. I am fully aware (when I stop and think about it) that I spend far too long on my phone each day. I justify this by telling myself I use it for the business, writing notes, posting on social media, sending orders, researching, ordering stock, replying to customers; the list is endless. But they are justifications. How often do you pick up your phone to do something and become so distracted by looking at other things that you forget what you were doing in the first place? I find some days, I put my phone down in the corner and walk away, utterly exhausted from the constant mental stimulation and with such tired eyes they feel strained. I am a big fan of the weekly notification on the iPhone, telling you the daily average length of time you spent on your phone. It brings awareness to this new habit we have. If it has been high one week, I think about it as I pick up my phone to just listlessly scroll.
Let's try something. Take a look at the clock, see what time it is. Now close your eyes. Take a deep breath. And just relax. Sit comfortably with your own thoughts. Allow your eyes to rest, give them a break from having to constantly take in all this information. Sit for as long as you comfortably can, just being quiet. You don't have to sit in a yoga pose, you could be at your desk, head in your hand. Or lying on the couch. Wherever you happen to be right now. Just close your eyes. When you can't take it any longer, open your eyes and look at the clock. How long did you last? Two minutes? Twelve minutes? Longer?
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
According to French philosopher Blaise Pascal, we dread boredom and choose aimless distraction, as humans we have never learnt the art of solitude. We fear silence. Now here's the thing. Blaise Pascal lived in the 17th century. This quote was written in the 1660s. Without television, technology, electronic games, social media or a constant bombardment of news to distract them, even back then they struggled to be alone in their own thoughts. So now with all of our choices of distraction to hand, what hope do we have?
Well it's a choice isn't it? I choose now, when I think of it I'll be honest, to leave my phone at home when I run an errand. I find when I stand in the queue, out of habit my hand searches for my phone to distract me. Coming up empty, instead I look around, watch what is going on in the world around me or I stare into space and have a moment's silence for myself. There are times of course you can't leave your phone at home. But it's being conscious about it, stopping and thinking before you reach for your phone. Do you really need to pick it up? What are we looking at, a distraction or something we really need to see?
It's not just the phone. That's just one symptom. The phone to me represents so much noise and information coming in to our minds that it makes us feel busier than we actually are. Because our minds are busier, we feel more uptight and are madly rushing around filling every moment of every day. And then when we do have a moment of quite, what do we do? Sit down and watch television!
The thing that we all forget, is we don't HAVE to do anything! Nothing is vital except breathing, eating and sleeping.
Every single other thing is by choice. Okay, yes we need to work to pay for a roof over our heads and to pay the grocery shopping. Do we need to do anything else on top of that? Nope. So next time you (Kristie!) get stressed about having to get A, B and C done and it has to be done by a certain time or else things will suddenly implode, ask yourself do these things fall into the breathing, eating or sleeping categories? If yes, go for your life. If not, well don't do it. What's the worst that can happen? You will have an extra hour to yourself to...god forbid...have some quite time!
Let's face it, this is life. We are all busy and society (with us being part of it) perpetuates this cycle of being so busy. But perhaps we can be a little more mindful, remind ourselves to shut off and give ourselves some peace. Of course we can't live in a constant state of mindfulness, or a constant state of anything, but conscious living is the ethos behind Freya's Nourishment. Being aware of what we put on, and into, our bodies. And that includes our minds. Being conscious, it brings things to the forefront and gives us choice to our behaviour, rather than behaving unconsciously, and automatically.
So when a friend next asks how we are?
Respect ourselves and our friendship to tell them the truth. We are well. Things are good. Because life really is wonderful.
In good health x