Slow down and take time to appreciate life

Cult of busy

Busy, busy, busy. We’re a culture of busy.

Living life on fast-forward, filled with pressing to-do lists seems to be the norm these days. Being busy has become a sign of success, importance and being valued in today’s culture.

Busyness is worn like a badge of honour, with our value as a person closely tied to our productivity. We’re applauded and rewarded for the great number of things we can accomplish in a day. Believing we’ve got to do everything quickly, and savouring the moment, seems to be a lost art.

I work with people lamenting feeling lazy and guilty when they take a well-earned day of rest, robbing them of the benefits and adding even more stress to their full lives. Even things intended to be pleasurable can easily become another task to complete. We are robbed of joy when we live this way.

This is not the way life is supposed to be, waiting for some never-to-arrive future date to have rest and enjoyment. When we do this, our bodies and minds become so conditioned by stress, true relaxation is a foreign concept.

Learning to question the prevailing trend of living at warp-speed, and making a different choice for our selves. Researchers at johns Hopkins call it the ‘cult of busy; and it’s a cult that’s increasing stress and eroding our health, quality of life, and relationships.

Chronic busyness keeps us stuck in the fight-or-flight response, and can start to feel normal. I’m seeing the price of living life like it’s an emergency in people I work with. Over time, the cost of chronic stress is experienced as:

• Sleep problems, fatigue and irritability

• In ability to be in the present moment

• Inability to concentrate

• Headaches

• Cardiovascular changes

• Digestive upsets, such as indigestion, heartburn, constipation and diarrhea

• Kidney and adrenal challenges

• Impaired Immune function

• Shrinkage of the brain’s grey-matter

• Relationship challenges

• Loss of happiness

• Burn-out

I was the queen of the busy cult in my younger years. Learning to question the true urgency behind life’s demands was essential for me. Most things in my world are not life-or-death, but I’d been living as though they were. Recognizing we must be the gate-keepers of our own schedule, ‘no’ becomes a complete sentence, as we learn to carve space for rest and enjoyment in our lives.

And, beware of the “busy-chant.” When we’re practicing it, we often miss out on the many pleasures we work hard to achieve, and want to experience. It’s important we challenge the insidious belief that we’re lazy or should feel guilty for taking important time to rest and enjoy life.

Words have power, whether spoken or simply held in our minds. The words we use carry an emotional charge, and our bodies are always listening and responding.

I’ve changed my busy-chant into acknowledging I have a full, rich and interesting life. I recognize the privilege of the many things I get to do, and endeavour to see them that way, instead of as another reason to feel busy.

I’m still growing. I fall off the wagon as I get pulled back into the cultural norm of busy. When I do, I simply pause, breathe, notice, and smile. I soften my body and dismiss the busy-chant and state-of-emergency from my mind.

Mind-set is key. As I’ve learned to say no, and dismiss the busy-chant, my mind grows clearer and I feel more relaxed and less pressured, as I go about my day. I’m better equipped to deal with life’s opportunities, and I am a more pleasant person. Even taking the time to notice, pause and simply breathe resets my mental attitude and changes my experience of life.

Changing old habits takes time, and it’s best done with gentle awareness.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

An assistant minister at the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, she is a retired nurse with a master’s degree in health science and is a hospice volunteer.  She is also an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan and currently spends her time teaching smartUBC, a unique mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. 

She is a speaker and presenter and from her diverse experience and knowledge, both personally and professionally, she has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people gain a new perspective, awaken and recognize we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts, stress or to life. We are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 44 years and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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