If we were to come up with a top three of the attributes that best describe so-called civilized society, I think “busy” would occupy the top position. And the second. And the third. Being a city dweller is great – you get to be in the middle of the action, interact with many different people and have a lot of cool events right up your alley. I, personally, couldn’t imagine not living in a city. However, there is a downside. You have to look like you have something important to do at any given time. You cannot afford to give the impression that you are “slacking off.”
In fact, let me emphasize this: The key word is *look* busy – actually being busy is secondary.
When you look busy, you look important. When you say, “I have a meeting,” or “I have business to take care of,” you look like a productive member of society, contributing to the advancement of civilization.
At work, when you complete an important assignment, you have to look as if you’re immediately on to the next one – even when there is no next one yet, in which case you have to think of the next assignment yourself. No breathers, because the boss will smell you in a millisecond. “Hey, don’t just sit there and slack off,” the boss will say. “But I’m not slacking off – I just did that thing you told me about just as I walked in today, and it turned out OK, too,” you will say. Just kidding – you will not, under any circumstance, say that. That’s talking back and it’s rude, not to mention it will put you on the boss’ special watch list. It’s against company policy to not look busy at all times.
Naturally, since looking busy is so crucial to our contemporary urban lives, we begin to stress about how to keep looking busy, we end up spending too much time in our heads and we no longer pay attention to what goes on around us. This makes us anxious and, being anxious, we also become brash and careless. Naturally, the stress affects even the work that is so important to us, which loses in quality.
In other words, the constant concern with being busy and productive leads to a lack of balance in our lives. Ideally, we would have times when we are working and times when we relax. There’s a good reason why yoga classes are mostly attended by corporate employees. Yoga is all about slowing down, relaxing and having a moment to focus on yourself in order to recharge your batteries. Our work times and our leisure times are not separate – they complete and potentiate one another. The more you work, the more you feel the need to take some time off, and after you’ve taken some time off, you are re-energized and more motivated to do good work.
Let’s be honest – when we see a person that seems to be taking their time and who – gasp – has a peaceful, relaxed expression on their face, we tend to classify that person as a slacker. We get a bit envious and even mean-spirited. We say, “Look at you. It’s like you have no care in the world.”
Spoiler alert: yes, they do – of course they do, because no one’s life is perfect. It’s just that they’ve realized that it is, in fact, important, to take some time to slow down your mind, look around you, and at least try to not burden others with your stress. It’s exactly because we are all caught up in a never-ending vicious circle fueled by anxiety and stress that we need to take our times of relaxation and leisure very seriously. When you work, by all means, work. Give your 110% to do the best job you can do. But when you relax and play, as rare as those times are, I urge you to make a conscious effort to keep your mind off work and give your 110% to your relaxation and play.