Are 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.

Many 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?

Perhaps 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.

I 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.

We 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 can.

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 attention.

And 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 disease, etc.

Being 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.

Busyness 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 good.

Rabindranath Tagore


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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 money.

Joe Karbo

Rabindranath 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 hurry and worry of life, that I miss the song of goodness which is waiting to be sung through me.

Joyce Rupp

Work addiction seems to be an addiction we are proud of.  We almost seem to brag with mock displeasure that we are "overwhelmed" with busyness, 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 career and how do you like doing it?  Do you like your answer?

Paul Pearsall

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.

Kristen Lippincott


Being busy does not always mean real work.  The 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.

Julia Cameron



Life 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


If 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.

Gunther Grass


May I never get too busy in my own affairs that I fail to respond
to the needs of others with kindness and compassion.

Thomas Jefferson


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.

Mark Twain

The really idle person gets nowhere.  The perpetually
busy person does not get much further.

Heneage Ogilvie


I 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.

Fanny Fern

Who remembers when we used to rest on Sunday instead of Monday?

Kin Hubbard

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
we'll be.  What ultimately results, though, is physical and spiritual exhaustion.
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
or reflect.  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.

Jack Zavada


The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most
common form, of contemporary violence.  To allow oneself to be
carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to
too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want
to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.

Thomas Merton

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 like
I am driving in a car on a wide highway with a call-in talk radio show
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 quietly,
faithfully closer to the ground.  I have this idea that if we could reframe
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 do.

Carrie Newcomer


The world is full of men and women who work too much, sleep too
little, hardly ever exercise, eat poorly, and are always struggling or
failing to find adequate time with their families.  We are in a
perpetual hurry--constantly rushing from one activity to another,
with little understanding of where all this 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.

Matthew Kelly

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."

Arthur Gordon

We may dream of a time when we can lie down beneath the night sky and do nothing
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.

Christina Feldman

We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity; but if we
dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an
endless collection of things to prop it up:  our name, our "biography,"
our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit. . . It is on their fragile
and transient support that we rely for our security. . . . Without our
familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not
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 have
tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however
boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence
with this stranger on our own?

Sogyal Rinpoche


Ceaseless activity is contrived by the ego to keep us from facing ourselves.
Inescapable as our constant running seems, we prefer it because we fear to
look within. We believe that if we faced ourselves, we would find pain and
darkness so overwhelming that we would rush to die at our own hand. So
we create an endless stream of errands, tasks, obligations, problems, dramas,
and emergencies to keep us preoccupied with the outer world.

Alan Cohen
The Tao Made Easy


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The trend 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 the real
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 those questions,
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.

Sue Patton Thoele

We are encouraged from an early age to keep ourselves busy and
productive and out of trouble.  But the truth is, being busy isn't necessarily
healthy and it doesn't keep you out of trouble--especially if you stay busy
so you have no time to be aware of your feelings.  Your body stores those
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 responsibilities, but
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.

Bernie Siegel

How 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 efficiently?
   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.

Norman Vincent Peale

The antidote to exhaustion may not be rest.  It may be wholeheartedness.
You are so exhausted because all of the things you are doing are just
busyness.  There's a central core of wholeheartedness totally
missing from what you're doing.

David Steindl-Rast

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 life in
which to stand alone and find myself.  Too many activities, and people, and
things.  Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people.
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.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Gift from the Sea

We 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
a national passion; it is a national excuse.

Earl Nightingale

Lead the Field

The problem is that perpetually doing, without ever tuning in to the center
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 which goals
really matter, and why.  Only by connecting with our innate sense of truth
can we ensure that the astonishing wealth and power human beings have
created will be used for intelligent, benevolent ends.  That is why throughout
history, everywhere on Earth--even in Max Weber's modern Europe--an
enormous variety of human cultures have venerated the teachings of a few
wise souls who happened to be extremely good at doing nothing.

Martha Beck
The Joy Diet


Sometimes we don’t have a choice about how busy we are.  And when
we do have a choice, taking on additional responsibilities may be fine—as
long as it is done for the right reasons.  The problem is that so many of us
pile on more and more activities for the wrong reasons, not because we
are passionate or believe in something, but because we are told to, or are
expected to, or like the idea of doing so.  Consequently, we end up
compromising on our productivity, creativity, and happiness.  How can
you become less busy?  How can you simplify your life?
Commit to doing less rather than more.

Tal Ben-Shahar
Choose the Life You Want



When Walker first steps onto the road, he has no thoughts, no history, no memories, and no clothes. As he travels and meets people and learns from them, he comes to know more about life, living, and becoming the person he's meant to be. Walker is a parable for all of us who wonder what might be the purpose of life, why bad things happen with almost as much regularity as good things, and how we can learn from the bad examples and experiences in our lives as much as we can learn from the good things. Tom Walsh's parable is a story of the ages, a timeless exploration of ideas and thoughts that all of us wonder about, a sincere and heartfelt portrait of a man who has no past and no future, but who learns to make the most of each precious present moment as it comes.



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