"Hey! Oh my gosh, I haven't seen you in so long! How have you been?"
"Ah, I've been good. I've been SO busy."
Raise of hands, how many of us have had this conversation at least five times this week? Me. I know I have and continue to, week after week after week.
Now, I haven't been around for very long but I would venture to say that fifty years ago, this was not the common response among friends who haven't caught up in a while. Since when did busyness become an acceptable response to "How are you?" Well it has, and it's scary to me how comfortable we, especially those of us living in the western world, are with it.
I mention the western world because if you look at cultures and societies across our planet, the rest of the world is not exactly like us in the United States. I spent a month down in the Amazon region of Brazil a few years ago for example, and I was able to watch how the people in this small, remote village lived every day. They woke up with the sun, walked their kids a stone's throw away to the one-room schoolhouse to drop them off for the day, went home and the women did the cooking and cleaning for the day while the men went out to the fields to chop down Acai from the trees, came back after a full day of manual labor and picked the kids up, sat on the front porch, ate dinner, and then went to bed. Their clothes, most of the time, did not match and they'd be lucky if their kids threw on a pair of shoes before running off to the center of the village to play soccer but the amount of joy they had made those small details beyond irrelevant.
And they lived life this way every single day.
They weren't waking up before the crack of dawn to get a workout in, swinging by McDonald's to grab a horribly unhealthy McMuffin on the way to work, stuck in car-horn-blaring traffic while answering 15 emails before 9:00 AM. They weren't stressing about wearing the latest style of suit and tie or a dress and heels with a crazy amount of makeup and hair product to make themselves look way better than they feel, running into the office spilling the four coffees they swung by to grab for everyone that sits in the cubicles around them. They didn't waste their time typing behind a computer screen for eight hours every day, sitting down and not moving their bodies, scheduling work events, school events, and personal events in between rushing off to meetings and doctors appointments on lunch breaks. They weren't skidding off at 5:00 from work, sitting in more traffic while changing into a T-shirt and jeans to make it to a small group meeting at 6:00 across town then only to rush off to an 8:00 happy hour with friends that would last until 10:00. They didn't hire a nanny to put their kids to bed at night because they were too busy fitting every commitment in way after the sun has set. They didn't neglect their personal time to read, think, write, and reflect because they were so rushed day in and day out, fitting 15 events into a day that should have held five. They didn't spend money on medicine to help the headaches and the anxiety because they didn't have either. They weren't buying pointless material items that weren't absolutely necessary for livelihood and functionality. They didn't forget to stop and smell the air, appreciate the beautiful nature around them, or give thanks for the few things they did have. No; They didn't do any of this.
But we do. Every day we do. We lack simplicity.
We run such busy lives and it's robbing us of the true beauty and simplicity that life is. We're getting sick with anxiety, tired from all of the running, worn down from all the responsibilities, and I wonder how much we as humans are able to take before we sit down and say enough is enough. What will it take?
Now let me say this—I'm notorious for filling my schedule to the brim. I acknowledge that life in Dallas, Texas by nature looks WAY different than life in Macapa, Brazil and I am 100 percent guilty of living the life I just described earlier. You know, the emailing in traffic and eating McDonald's one. However, I think my Brazilian friends and others across the world have caught onto the ideas of rest and simplicity of life much better than we have and we have much to learn from them. Clearly.
Inability to Say No
Just the other day I took the Enneagram test and lo and behold, I'm a seven. For those of you who have no idea what that means, neither did I until I took it; It's a personality test. In one of the descriptions it read, "Your personality type is unable to say 'no,' throwing self into constant activity. You want to maintain your freedom, happiness, and to avoid missing out on worthwhile experiences, you keep yourself excited and occupied, to avoid and discharge pain."
- Unable to say no.
- Constant activity.
- To avoid and discharge pain.
These few thoughts really stuck with me the second I read them and still hit a faint nerve of pain and truth when I typed them out just now.
Am I staying busy to distract myself from deeper issues that are going on in my life?
Maybe, if others are anything like me, we're all just afraid of missing out. Maybe we're afraid of silence and what thoughts and feelings may flood into our hearts and heads when we take a second to stop and be still. When is the last time any of us stopped for even just five minutes and sat in complete silence? Maybe we're obsessed with feeling important, being needed by others and holding a position of worth. Maybe we like to always be on the go so we feel like we're making life meaningful and doing something that's bigger than ourselves. Maybe we're running from ourselves, distracting our hearts and minds from pain that bubbles up the second we stop and rest. I know I have, I do.
If we acknowledge why we keep ourselves so busy, we would notice we're driven by one thing that far surpasses the rest.
Fear of missing out, fear of being irrelevant, fear of losing importance, fear of being boring or being bored. Fear of 'living under a rock.' Fear of missing the next opportunity. Fear of not being the best. Fear, fear, fear.
When we let fear take root in our lives, it will produce a plant and later fruit that we weren't ever meant to water. Our busyness is being driven by doing all of the right things for the wrong reasons.
Why does my personality type hate to say no? I would venture to say for fear of missing out or feeling unimportant.
What's your reason?
Awareness. My hope in all of this is to bring awareness to the smallest, most common things we do every day and ask myself and you to dig a bit deeper and think harder about why we do what we do. From anxiety medicine to botox treatment to halt our worry wrinkles, we're a people in general that go-go-go way too much and we forget to stop and smell the roses and bring simplicity back into our days.
Let's stop and smell the roses today, take five minutes to sit in silence and look inside to see who and where we are. Then, and only then, once we've really examined our motives and our fears, can we begin to fight and change our lives and our days into what they could and should be.
Fear is nothing but a liar, friends. Simplicity is yours if you're willing to take it. Give yourself the time it takes to get there. You can do it.
All my love,