THE BLOG
08/20/2014 05:23 pm ET | Updated Oct 20, 2014

Do You Wear Your Busyness as a Badge of Honor?

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NOTHING....is becoming rare and precious. Everything is hype, noise, desire, desperation, speed and greed. We in the modern world are good at 'doing,' but anemic at 'being.' Entertainment, busy-ness, texting while walking or even driving...'Efficiency' is an addictive myth based on our fidgety fear of opening up. We can not 'do' properly until we can, first, 'be' fully. Practice doing nothing - then - we can accomplish...ANYTHING. -- Project Happiness

"Sorry, I can't do that. I'm too busy."

"Sorry I'm booked til next week. Two weeks, actually."

"The Dean needs to meet with you, but according to your online calendar, you have no openings til December."

"I'm a busy woman."

I used to say these things with pride. I wore my busyness as a badge of honor. My booked schedule proof of my value, my worth. But at the end of the day, I wasn't happy.

So I got busier. Booked myself even more. Until the universe knocked me down. I broke my heel twice in one year. Hard to be busy when you can't walk without assistance. I don't know if you've ever had the pleasure of being on crutches for four and a half months, but everything takes twice as long -- or so it seems.

I still tried to be busy, mind you. I wasn't about to let crutches -- or that fabulous invention called the knee scooter -- slow me down. Until my doctor fired me. After the first two and a half months on crutches, I hadn't healed -- at all. The fracture looked worse, not better.

A good friend of mine chastised me for being so busy that I was getting in my own way of healing. "Do you want to heal or not?" She asks me. "Of course I want to heal," I replied. She arched her eyebrows. "Really?"

She had a point.

So I cut back on my busyness and I finally healed. But I didn't learn my lesson. As soon as I got clearance from my doctor, I resumed my busyness. Yes, I cut back on my running, but I didn't cut back on the hours I was putting in at work or in my extracurricular activities, including working out. 6 months later, I was still experiencing some heel pain, and was exhausted.

Then July happened. Death in the family. Some expected and unexpected travel and my busyness began to take a different form. Instead of work busyness, it was personal busyness. And I realized something. When I had to pull back at work, the world didn't end. When I had to cut back on my extracurricular activities, the groups I belonged to didn't fall apart. And my body didn't seem to miss all the workouts either.

This week marks the start of school again for me. I used to look forward to the busyness. Now? Not so much. For the first time in my life, I don't want to look at my calendar and see it completely booked. I want to keep some of that time for me, to rest, recharge, enjoy my life and just be.

I was talking to a friend yesterday complaining about an upcoming 13-hour day filled with meetings. Her response? "That's a typical day for me." I looked at her and I wanted to say, "I'm sorry. That's awful." But then I realized that she -- much like me -- wore her busyness as a badge of honor. An apology wasn't warranted or necessary.

That got me thinking. Why do we need to be so busy? When did our days start needing to be 100 percent filled from dawn til dusk and beyond. When did our lack of sleep become something to rejoice as a sign of our busyness? My busyness has left me exhausted. Am I the only one? I doubt it.

So here's my challenge for me -- and you if you'd like to play along: spend some time every day doing nothing. I know, it sounds scary. Who has time to do nothing? I submit that not only do we have time, it would benefit us immensely to spend some time doing nothing. Our brains would benefit from getting a much needed break from our busyness. Our bodies would benefit from some much needed rest and time to replenish and recharge. If that seems daunting, then start with five minutes a day. Then 10, then 20, then 30. You get the idea.

So how does one do nothing, exactly? The key is to do something mindless -- where your mind gets to rest. Here are a few of my favorite ways to "do nothing" (aka to just be):

  • Sit outside.
  • Sit in stillness in my office chair.
  • Meditate.
  • Going for a slow, relaxing, aimless walk.
  • Read a good book.

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How do you "do" nothing?