Our Love for Busyness
Oh how we love to be busy. Our culture swims in an ocean of continuous activity.
The reptilian brain, still an intrinsic part of our nervous system, keeps us on constant patrol—hunting, running, eating, interacting—in an effort to survive. Our survival self, what Freud called the id, thrives on constant activity.
To reinforce this primitive drive, our social programming has linked our sense of significance to how busy we are. The ego gets its sense of worth not from the results it produces or the overall contributions it makes, but by how busy it continues to be. Executives, for example, may brag about the number of hours they log each week or how little sleep they’re getting.
Phone calls, emails, text messages, meetings, passing thoughts—these are all easy hooks for the ego. The question What do I need to do? is one of the ego’s primary programs for staying occupied, reinforcing its sense of importance and significance with an endless series of details. In fact, we often mistake busyness for business.
Plus, we now have Web 2.0: blogging, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Tweeter, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, Slideshare, Squidoo, Ning, Pandora, Meebo, and thousands of other applications with new ones entering the fray every day.
I’m not suggesting that any of these applications are bad (I use a number of them). But they do provide endless fuel for perpetual busyness.
In ancient Hindu philosophy rajas is the term used to describe our constant drive for activity, one of the three in-born attributes of consciousness. The first attribute is called tamas or inertia, while the third and most evolved attribute is sattva, or beingness and harmony.
How do you find balance amidst an onslaught of never-ending activity?
Take a few moments each day to go “offline.” Sit still and just be. Let go trying to change anything. Notice your breath. Observe your surrounding without judgment. Feel a moment of gratitude for your existence.
Could these few daily moments of Zen transform your life? I don’t know, but they will help you keep perspective as you march forward through the adventures of life.
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