you too busy? Have you ever sat down and considered
just what it means to be too busy? If you
haven't, then there's a good chance that you are too busy,
that your activities and work in your life are causing you
to neglect other areas of who you are that are--or that
should be--extremely important to you.
people buy into the notion that the best way for us to
live our lives is to be as busy as possible, to squeeze in
as many activities and projects as we possibly can squeeze
into what we consider to be our schedules. We stop
saying "no" to anything, and we stop doing
things that we consider to be "fun"--after all,
if it's just recreation then we aren't really
accomplishing anything, are we?
this is a desire to "stockpile"
accomplishments. Perhaps it's a holdover of our
desire to pad our resumes by accumulating as much
experience as possible in as many different fields as
possible. No matter what the origins of this
tendency, though, the simple fact is that it tends to be a
pretty destructive habit to be in.
know people who are so busy that they never have time to
spend with their friends. When someone asks them to
get together for a cup of coffee, for example, they have
to check their appointment book--just to spend an hour
with a friend! In cases of emergency, they're often
at a loss as to what to do, for their time is so filled
with tasks that they can't decide which tasks can be let
go and which ones need to be followed through on.
also tend to be a culture that values
"multi-tasking," or taking on several jobs at
once in an effort to get as much done as we possibly
This tendency keeps us even busier than we
would be if we took on one task at a time, and it also
keeps us from putting our full attention on any one
task. The end result is that the tasks we take on
simultaneously never receive our undivided attention, and
the quality of the finished tasks never can equal the
quality of a finished task on which we focus our
what do people get for being over-busy? There are
many results, such as ulcers, indigestion, lack of
exercise, lack of time with friends and family, and many
medical problems related with stress and the lack of
relaxation, like skin problems, high blood pressure, heart
busy--or over-busy--is usually a question of
decisions. We decide which tasks we'll take on and
which deadlines we accept. Sometimes our motivation
seems so strong that we feel pushed into a decision, such
as the possibility of losing a job, but the bottom line is
that what we do and when we do it is still our
decision. Perhaps removing ourselves from a job that
takes too much from us is the better decision for us in
the long run, and perhaps setting some limits by saying no
to someone can be an extremely important action.
is something that keeps us away from quiet time, from
meditation, from friends and family, from reading, from
relaxation. And these are the things that help us to
re-create ourselves, to rejuvenate ourselves, and to grow
and develop as human beings. Making the decision to
step away from being busy can help us in many different
ways, some of which are completely unimaginable to us
while we're still busy, while we're still so scattered in
our thoughts that we can't focus on anything else but the
immediate task at hand. We owe it to ourselves to
take care of ourselves, and being perpetually busy is not
healthy or wise for the vast majority of us.
They who are too busy doing good find no time to be
people behind the words
Two - Year Three
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|Modern people are frantically trying to earn enough
to buy things they're too busy to enjoy.
Frank A. Clark
Don't be too busy earning a living to make any
Tagore writes that the song he wanted to sing has never happened
because he spent his days “stringing and unstringing” his
instrument. Whenever I read these lines a certain sadness enters my soul.
I get so
preoccupied with the details and pressure of my schedule, with the
worry of life, that I miss the song of goodness which is waiting
to be sung through me.
addiction seems to be an addiction we are proud of. We
to brag with mock displeasure that we are "overwhelmed"
sometimes as an excuse for not really being able to do what we
really want to be
doing. Work addiction is a symptom not of working your
brains out but of your brain
working you out. Why are you doing what you're doing for a
how do you like doing it? Do you like your answer?
A lot of our 'busyness' is a way for us to avoid
thinking about what is
most important. There's a difference
between being busy and being productive.
Being busy does not always mean real work.
object of all work
is production or accomplishment and to either
of these ends
there must be forethought, system, planning,
intelligence, and honest
purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming
to do is not doing.
Thomas Alva Edison
If you are too busy to develop your talents, you
are too busy.
lived amidst tension and busyness needs leisure.
Leisure that recreates and renews. Leisure should be
a time to think new thoughts, not ponder old ills.
C. Neil Strait
work and leisure are soon to be subordinated to this
one utopian principle--absolute busyness--then utopia
and melancholy will come to coincide: an age without conflict
will dawn, perpetually busy--and without consciousness.
May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I
fail to respond
to the needs of others with kindness and
|We are always too busy for our
children; we never give them
the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them;
but the most precious gift, our personal association, which
means so much to them, we give grudgingly.
The really idle
nowhere. The perpetually
busy person does not get much further.
am convinced that there are times in everybody's
experience when there is so much to be done, that
the only way to do it is to do it is
to sit down and to do nothing at all.
|Who remembers when we used to rest on Sunday
instead of Monday?
Somewhere in the late 20th century we got the idea
that busyness is a virtue.
We decided that the more
activities we can squeeze into our lives, the happier
be. What ultimately results, though, is physical and
We jump from one appointment to
another, our body and mind racing.
We schedule events back
to back and overlapping, with no time to rest
And when we're in one activity, we're either distracted with the
thing we've just done or the thing that's coming up. It's
not a good way to live.
|The rush and pressure of
modern life are a form, perhaps the most
common form, of contemporary violence. To allow oneself to
carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender
too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want
to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.
We live a
culture that frames not getting enough sleep and being
overwhelmingly busy as a virtue. We are a culture that values
speed over true presence. We get subtle (or not so subtle)
encouragement to never slow, savor or consider. When I get caught
up in that kind of busy (as most of us do from time to time) it is
I am driving in a car on a wide highway with a call-in talk radio
chattering away in the background. I can only see broad swaths of
image as they
pass by too quickly to consider. I can't hear the voice
of my own heart or catch the small miracles that are happening
faithfully closer to the ground. I have this idea that if we could
what we call abundance and valuable, our days would be filled with
more of what we deeply love, instead of more of what we have to
world is full of men and women who work too much, sleep too
hardly ever exercise, eat poorly, and are always struggling or
failing to find
adequate time with their families. We are in a
from one activity to another,
with little understanding of where
activity is leading us. . . .
The world has gone and got itself in
an awful rush,
to whose benefit
I do not know. We are too busy for our own
good. We need to
slow down. Our lifestyles are destroying us. The worst part is,
we are rushing east in search of a sunset.
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|A few years ago, on a liner bound for
Europe, I was browsing in the library when I came across a
puzzling line by Robert Louis Stevenson:
"Extreme busyness, whether at school, kirk, or
market, is a symptom of deficient vitality."
Surely, I thought, "deficient" is a mistake--he
must have meant "abundant." But R.L.S.
went merrily on, "It is no good speaking to such
folk: they can not be idle, their nature is
not generous enough."
Was it possible that a bustling display of energy might
only be a camouflage for a spiritual vacuum? The
thought so impressed me that I mentioned it next day to
the French purser, at whose table I was sitting. He
nodded his agreement. "Stevenson is
right," he said. "Indeed, if you will
pardon my saying so, the idea applies particularly to you
Americans. A lot of your countrymen keep so busy
getting things done that they reach the end of their lives
without ever having lived at all."
may dream of a time when we can lie down beneath the night sky and
but be present in its vastness with total attention. But our
dreams are too often sabotaged
by the busyness generated by anxiety. We seek evidence of
our worth through what we
produce, become, and surround ourselves with. Boredom has
come to be regarded as one
of our greatest enemies and we flee from it by generating endless
complexity and busyness.
Boredom may be no more than a surrender of sensitivity, yet,
rather than turning our hearts
and minds to rediscover that lost sensitivity, we thirst for even
more exciting experiences,
drama, and intensity. . . When alienated from inner vitality we
mistake intensity for wakefulness.
believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity; but if we
dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on
endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our
our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit. . . It is on
and transient support that we rely for our security. . . . Without
familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do
know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the
time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn't that why we
tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity,
boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence
with this stranger on our own?
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among most people I know under the age of sixty is toward
compulsive action. It's as if our lives are on a treadmill
with the continually
increasing speed outside our control.
The pace of our lives at work, home, and play anesthetizes us to
reasons for each: Why do we work? Why do we try so
hard to create
a good home? Why do we play? Before we can answer
we need to ask some others: Why do I run so fast? What
am I running
toward? What am I running from? Is this fast pace the
way I really want
to live? Who sets my breakneck pace? . . .
If you are obsessively active, please at least pause to ask
yourself why and
to listen for the answer from the still, quiet voice alive and
well within you.
I don't have an answer for the hurry sickness afflicting our
society and our
souls. But I do trust that the how-to-stop-it is within you,
and you can
change your pace if you want to.
are encouraged from an early age to keep ourselves busy and
productive and out of trouble. But the truth is, being busy
healthy and it doesn't keep you out of trouble--especially if you
so you have no time to be aware of your feelings. Your body
unacknowledged feelings, and you know that is not good for you.
I don't want to spend my life keeping busy.
Maybe I could successfully juggle an impressive list of
what would I be contributing to life? I am much more
interested in being
creative than being busy. Creating feels good. It
fills me, restores me,
nourishes me and energizes me.
often have we heard such statements: "I meant
to write, but I just didn't have time" or "I
wanted to drop in, but I've been so busy." Why
is it that despite more time for leisure, people today are
busier than ever?
Is this busy-ness due to more activities, or
to the failure of people to organize their time
The people who achieve many things seldom
give the impression of being busy. They have
developed the skill of using relaxed power. When
they work, they accomplish their tasks with spirit and
efficiency. The secret is not that they work faster
than others, but that they make better use of their time.
to exhaustion may not be rest. It may be wholeheartedness.
You are so exhausted because all of the things you are doing are
busyness. There's a central core of wholeheartedness totally
missing from what you're doing.
My life in Connecticut, I
begin to realize, lacks the quality of significance and
therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space.
The space is
scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few
empty pages in my
engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my
which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities,
and people, and
things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and
For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the
important as well.
We can have a surfeit of treasures--an excess of shells,
where one or two would be significant.
Gift from the Sea
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Two - Year Three
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What does it mean to live a full life? How do we
stay happy and content in a world that often seems to be
throwing more at us than we can handle? Thirty years in
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prayer, in an effort to help you to figure out just where to
focus your energy and attention when life is being difficult for
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seem to have no time for thought. The paradox, of course, is
that we are busy doing nothing. Never before has so much leisure
time been available to so many. Leisure hours now exceed working
hours. But we have a genius for cluttering. We have somehow
managed to persuade ourselves that we are too busy to think, too
busy to read, too busy to look back, too busy to look ahead, too
busy to understand that all our wealth and all our power are not
enough to safeguard our future unless there is also a real
understanding of the danger that threatens us and how
to meet it. Thus, being busy is more than merely
passion; it is a national excuse.
Lead the Field
problem is that perpetually doing, without ever tuning in to the
of our being, is the equivalent of fueling a mighty ship by
tossing all its
navigational equipment into the furnace. Fully occupied by
the process of
achieving innumerable goals, we lose the ability to determine
really matter, and why. Only by connecting with our innate
sense of truth
can we ensure that the astonishing wealth and power human beings
created will be used for intelligent, benevolent ends. That
is why throughout
history, everywhere on Earth--even in Max Weber's modern
enormous variety of human cultures have venerated the teachings of
wise souls who happened to be extremely good at doing nothing.