Have you noticed lately that the generic response to “How are you?” has changed from “fine” to “busy”?
Whether at a cocktail party or a family gathering, both “busy” and “fine” are kind of non-answers. Neither fosters conversation or connection.
So, why do we choose to say “busy” instead of “fine”?
“Being busy” makes it seem like we’re important, sought-after but also over-extended and under-appreciated.
While “fine” is neutral, saying “I’m so busy” gives the signal that you’re not really happy about the current state of affairs and you don’t particularly want to talk about it.
“Being busy” is a state of mind, not a precise reflection of the amount of tasks or time you have.
If you feel “busy” all the time, take a deep breath and ask yourself,
Am I busy because:
- I have poor boundaries and take on too much?
- I underestimate the time it takes to complete a task?
- I don’t take time to prioritize the essential from the unimportant?
- I hold myself to an unnecessarily high standard of success?
- I am trying to outrun difficult feelings or circumstances?
We have only 24 hours in a day. The amount of unscheduled time we have varies but we have the power to choose how to fill those moments. Remember, the ability to choose cannot be taken away or given—it can only be forgotten.
In the next several weeks, there will be extra tasks, extra social events and lots of small talk. Take a moment to focus on conversation instead of task completion. Instead of being “busy,” be present, be curious, be open.