Busy-ness is The New Lazines
Have you ever noticed how we tend to fill up all the available space in our life? We Americans like almost no other culture pride ourselves on our busyness. Gap on the calendar? Fill it. Pack those productive meetings in and feel important and urgently needed. Answer emails, mark something off your list and believe that all of that work is moving life forward somehow. It's a (perhaps unintentional) choice not to prioritize or focus, to get sucked into social media, to create or catch up on projects that won't advance major business or personal goals, and/or not delegate tasks that others should be doing for us. It has been referred to as the hamster wheel and we are all just running to keep up…worn out from all the activity.
Recently, at an off-site retreat with one of my favorite teams, we had a conversation about how busy-ness in the Tibetan tradition is considered the most extreme form of laziness. As quoted from Dr. Reginald Ray, founder of the Dharma Ocean Foundation:
“…because when you are busy you can turn your brain off. You’re on the treadmill. The only intelligence comes in the morning when you make your “To Do” list and you get rid of all the possible space that could happen in your day. There is intelligence in that: I fill up all the space so I don’t have to actually relate to myself!”
Could it be true? Do many of us keep a tight and full schedule as a defense mechanism (yes, I’m a psychologist so I can use that word!) so that we can unconsciously be "lazy" and not create time to deal with the deeper and often difficult issues in our lives? If so, this is completely out of sync with how the brain works! The truth is, as soon as we pause and allow our frantic schedules to subside, the mind can begin to awaken to the deeper work of connecting to both our professional and personal needs. Our brain needs time to read widely and from different sources. To reflect on information. Synthesize different ideas. Remember an old friend. Creatively move the ball forward. Figure out what needs to be refined. Mull over past interactions. Make something of what we know. Create stuff. Do good.
As you begin to move into strategic planning season - begin to think about what you want to accomplish next year. Create the "white space" in your calendar now to allow new ideas and opportunities to arise. Get comfortable with providing yourself free and unstructured time. Push beyond busy-ness so that you can reflect on what is going well and what is not going so well. Start early and begin to create your vision for 2016…that is the first step to turning a "maybe someday we will" to "we did it"!