Addictions are primarily used to block out uncomfortable experiences that happen on our insides-like emotions. Drugs, alcohol, the pokies, even sex addictions fulfill this task remarkably well. The highs, the concerted energy spent chasing more, the recovery from the rush are all great distracters. However, most of the old-skool addictions like getting blind drunk are now recognised as unhealthy or even socially unacceptable and passé.
Not so busyness. In fact we view it as a badge of honour. It gives us the great adrenaline rush and high of cocaine. Along with the draining comedown and even physical malaise that is the inverse of that high. It seems to work so well. We are charging ahead with our lives feeling like heroes…until we wake up and realise that we have spent half of our lives doing activities that we cared nothing about.
As with recovery from most addictions, stopping being busy first requires getting comfortable with doing nothing. Just being. With ourselves. This is really hard since then we might start to hear some of the scary stuff that runs through our minds about our worth as people. Or have to tolerate unpleasant emotions such as loneliness. This is where learning to use mindfulness to sit with and make friends with these experiences is invaluable.
Why do this difficult task rather than just keep cleaning, cleaning, emailing, shopping, working, and running errands? Because we all really want to live a valued life. What will you care about when you are on your deathbed…that you didn’t work enough or that you hardly knew your kids? That your driveway was never quite clean or that you had many great times with your friends? Questions like these can keep us from straying too far from a meaningful life.
Start today, right this minute. What are you going to do next, something that you will cherish or something that will keep you preoccupied? I challenge you to spend five minutes of your valuable time even considering what an example of the former might be. Then even better spend 30 minutes more doing it! Let’s nuke busyness for busyness’ sake.