“I’m late. I’m late. For a very important date!
No time to say Hello! Goodbye!
I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!”
The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland
Last night I slept like a baby. All night. Surprisingly.
I was contrasting my activities of the last week with the newly restored balance and relaxation I was experiencing here in Southern Mexico. Recently I had taken on a new consulting project and my days were jammed with phone and Skype appointments. My frustrations were heightened with failures in technology. I was moving so fast that at times I felt as though I hardly had time to breathe. My nights where short and restless and I needed more than my normal quota of coffee to get going each day.
All this made me reflect on why our lives become so hurried.
Of course there are huge differences as to why people get busy. Some reasons are productive and others are quite dysfunctional. Also there are huge individual differences between people on energy levels, social needs, professional demands, ways they take care of themselves, and the stage they find themselves in life.
At the root of hurry, beyond the fact of time management, there are two basic questions we could ask:
1. What might you be running from?
2. What might you be moving towards?
People who are unconsciously driven by past demons often spend much of their lives running from them. This hurried flight can be explained in part by the following statements.
1. “I am inadequate!” Our perceived lack of value may be pegged to insecurities related to personal appearance, lovability, intellectual capacity, social status, and so on. Driven by deep feelings of inferiority we pack our lives with activities that we believe will compensate for our felt sense of inadequacy.
2. “I don’t have enough!” Here we literally become greedy for whatever we believe will fill that vacuum in our lives. So the more friends we accumulate, possessions we acquire, social events we attend, steps we climb on the corporate ladder, or business commitments we make, we believe that they will fill the empty bucket of our lives. But the trouble is the bucket is never filled because it has a gaping hole at the bottom. Hence the activities we pursue never seems to fully satisfy.
3. “I love this busyness”. The adrenaline rush keeps us feeling alive to the point of becoming an addiction. We reach the point where we cannot do without the hurried life. As a result our lives are so out of balance that our health and relationships suffer. We literally become hooked on how important we feel when we are busy.
4. “I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts.” Sometimes we are suffering from hurts or unresolved psychological issues and attempt to avoid them by keeping busy. As long as we distract ourselves and don’t allow ourselves to be quiet and reflective, we think we can eliminate our suffering.
But busyness is not always a bad thing. Busyness can be productive when we are…
People may be busy for positive reasons:
1. The Drive to Make a Contribution. This impulse is seldom found in a person compensating for a felt sense of insufficiency. Rather, it comes from a vision of a deep human need, an innovative challenge, and a sense of the significant contribution one can make to serve the greater good.
2. The Impulse of the Soul. In our heart of hearts, our very essence or soul, we are kind people with the impulse to do good. In order then for the soul to thrive it has to grow in the soil of personal awareness, balance, presence, and the practice of living as fully in the moment as we can.
3. The Sense of the Oneness of Everything. The more I travel and experience other cultures I sense that we have more in common with each other than the differences that often divide. It is these common bonds that drive us to ever be students and celebrate common ties. The appetite for more of this oneness ennobles the human spirit.
Activities that arise from moving towards contribution, soul, and oneness are regenerative. These build us up and contribute in positive ways to others.
Activities driven by the forces of the ego are based on inferiority, greed, and addiction. These break us down, rob us of our vitality, and hurt others in the process.
Both forces are ever present in our lives. Both require that we stay awake to their presence, treat ourselves with compassion, be less judgmental of others, and require that we take intentional steps to feed the soul and starve the ego.
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