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Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Daily Chai Wonders If Being Busy Really Makes Us Happy

Today's chai will be delicious, I can feel it in my bones.

I spent the day yesterday gardening with my mom. Gardening is not really something I enjoy, but it was a good day to be outside enjoying the weather. Today is another beauty day and I'm looking forward to picking up my kids after a week without them. It was great spending all that time with them in Vancouver, but this week off was much needed. I do see them throughout the week for a couple hours in the evening and I swear Anna grows an inch and increases her vocabulary by twenty words each time I've spend more than a night away from her. She'll be writing Shakespeare soon. 

So I have a busy day ahead of packing to go back to my old house, getting groceries and entertaining my children. I recently had a conversation with a friend about being adults and being busy and I have to say, it irritated the shit out of me. I started thinking about how often I hear people say, "I'm SO busy, it's crazy!" It's gotten to the point that if you aren't busy, there must be something wrong with you. If you don't have a good answer to "What did you do today?" you feel guilty for wasting time. If you aren't off doing something, seeing someone, conquering the world, you are basically a waste of skin. But what is it about our modern society that makes us feel that way? Why is there so much pressure to not only be busy, but to almost brag about it to everyone? We always seem to say it in a roll-our-eyes, wish-it-was-different way, "Oh my God, I'm so busy! I have NO time to myself!" and yet, we could slow down if we wanted to, we just don't. We pile on responsibilities, we strive for promotions at work, we have more babies, we make more plans and then "complain" that we are too busy. 

Facebook makes this worse because people post all their cool adventures for the world to see and friends end up feeling like they need to do more, see more, be more. When I find myself scanning pictures and wondering why everyone else's lives are so much cooler than mine, I remind myself that they are posting highlights of their lives and there are days, weeks, even months that go by where they are just drudging through the regular grind of life. Just like me!

And then you have the inspiration quotes that are meant to light a fire under your ass but usually just make you feel antsy because they are just words and they don't change anything. Have you ever read one of those memes and actually changed the way you behave? I know I've posted several here over the last few months and I've done that because they spoke to me, made me think or just made me laugh, but I'm not sure they have really changed my outlook on life.  I think they have just made me feel like I'm grasping at something I will never have, adding to the stress of not having or doing it all. 

Pinterest started out as an amazing resource of life hacks, cool craft ideas and decorating tips. You pin something with the idea that it's a great solution to something you've been trying to figure out in your own life, but after a month goes by and you haven't even started your own project, you begin to feel a panicky sense of guilt that you will never live up to all those pins that you loved. Pinterest is wreaking havoc on egos everywhere. 

I feel the years ticking away as I get older and I have this sense of urgency to get things done, tied up and squared away. To make things happen because they are taking too long to happen on their own. It makes me pushy and annoying and I don't like that about myself. I'm just not the type of person that patiently waits for things to unfold, but what else can you do? You can't control anyone else, you can't make them feel or do what you want them to just because your little heart desires it. 

Getting back to being too busy. I once texted a friend to say, "Hey, haven't seen you for awhile, want to get together for a beer soon?" The response was, "That would be awesome, I've been so busy, but I'd love to see you" Good start, warm fuzzies being felt. But then we never actually made plans. Weeks went by and I still hadn't seen that person, so the next time I was free, I texted again, "What are you doing this weekend? Want to grab that beer?" The response was basically the same, "Oh my God, what a crazy couple weeks, work is insane, the kid is sick. Ugh! Yes, let's make a plan soon to get together, I definitely need some grown up time and I miss you sooooo much!" 

But the point of my text was not to "make a plan soon" to get together at a later date, it was to make a plan RIGHT NOW for a later date. I wasn't asking to drop everything that moment and take off for the nearest pub, but the purpose of my text was to make a plan to do exactly that in the very near future, not make a plan to make a plan. And you may say, "Oh Meg, you poor, silly, deluded girl. This person obviously does not *really* want to spend time with you." And I would tend to agree, that if you get blown off enough, that sad fact is probably true. But I don't think it's the case all the time when you get a response like that. I think it's an honest response which also means: "I would love to see you, but right now I am so overwhelmed that I can't even comprehend setting a date to get together." And nothing ever gets planned and we just continue on our merry, ridiculous, busy way. Racking up points with the god of industry and plenty thinking we are winning at life. 

But that isn't where the ridiculousness ended. When I said, "Okay, let's make a plan now or we will never see each other, I'm free these days and these days, what does your week look like?" And it turned out that neither of us was free for another five weeks. Five weeks. What. The. Fuck? And it wasn't just my friend's "crazy" schedule or sick kid, it was obligations and responsibilities that I myself had committed to keep. 

Perhaps I'm just being nostalgic for the days when you called up a friend and more likely than not, they had time for a coffee. Because you just had a job, not a career, you had a dog instead of a kid, you had no money to travel, you didn't belong to any boards, and frankly, if you watched another minute of television, you were going to scream and you needed to get out of the house anyway. 

But I tend to think there is more to it than nostalgia. Are we, as a society, happier because we have so much going on all the time? We seem to get pretty pumped with our shared calendars on our phones so we can keep our lives organized. But are we more fulfilled? Satisfied? Content? I don't think so. I look around and I see a bunch of stressed out, unhappy people most of the time. I definitely have friends that thrive on being on the go and I admire them for it. But I think the majority of people are just wondering where the fuck all their spare time went. 

I have no solutions. Just food for thought. Well, I have one solution. Stop committing to so many damn activities and take some time for yourself so you can figure out what you really want. Stop and smell the roses, look up into the blue sky and just BREATHE.


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