What keeps you busy?

Often, people put up a status on WhatsApp or Social Media declaring that they are ‘busy’. Of course, they really are busy working and don’t have time for distractions. In effect, they are announcing that they don’t wish to be disturbed.
But, what are we usually busy with? Meetings, completing projects, deadlines, work pressures. Sometimes, we are just not interested in engaging with others and we say we are busy. It’s a way of avoiding unpleasant confrontations.
Brigid Schulte writes in her book ‘Overwhelmed’, ‘So much do we value busyness, researchers have found a human ‘aversion’ to idleness and need for ‘justifiable busyness.’’

Have you noticed that appearing busy when you actually aren’t, can make you feel important? It gives you a high, to be in demand, yet unavailable! But remember, it will tire you out, since you won’t really achieve much through this farce.

There’s a beautiful story about a father who had brought his five-year old daughter to a park to ride on her toy bike. The man sat on a bench and watched his daughter.

A young woman was sitting next to him. Around half an hour later, the man called out to his daughter, ‘Come. It’s time to go.’ the daughter pleaded, ‘Five more minutes, Dad.’ The man smiled and said, ‘Okay’. The girl continued playing, she was really enjoying herself and the man was smiling as he watched her. 15 minutes later, the same thing was repeated, the man called the daughter and she pleaded that he allow her to play for a few more minutes. The man permitted her to continue playing. This was repeated two more times. The woman sitting next to the man watched this curiously and finally said, ‘You certainly are a patient father entertaining your daughter’s request again and again. I would surely have become annoyed if I were in your place.’

The man smiled and replied, ‘Her older brother was killed by a drunk driver last year as he rode his bike to school. I didn’t spend much time with him as I was always too busy. Today, I would give anything to spend just five more minutes with him. I’ve vowed not to make the same mistake with my daughter. I will never be too busy for her. She thinks she gets five more minutes to ride her bike. The truth is, I get five more minutes to watch her play.’

In the Lokavipatti Sutta Buddha describes the eight worldly winds- pleasure and pain, praise and blame, fame and disrepute, gain and loss. These are pairs of opposites that keep us busy fruitlessly. We get carried away by these winds and can lose our course easily. Pleasure, fame, praise and gain make us feel good. In chasing these, we remain fruitlessly busy. Ironically, we get carried away by their opposites also. Pain, blame, disrepute and loss can keep us entangled in endless grief. Being swept away by any of these eight worldly winds, we are bound to become unhappy.

We must make sure that important things keep us busy- doing things that make life easier for others, leaving a better world for future generations and learning how to be a better human being. Often, it’s these very things that we discredit and disregard, in our pursuit of busyness.
So, are you happy being busy, or busy being happy?


Deepam Chatterjee is the author of The Millennial Yogi. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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