Are The ‘Busy’ Lives We Lead Fulfilling Us, Or Just Distracting Us From Real Happiness?

distracted living, learning to slow down
Jenna Day

For years I was a busy person with a busy work schedule, a busy social life and a busy family life. There was always something to do and always somewhere to be; better than being bored and alone, right?

With that many things going on, it was really tough for me to put any time or focus towards my health, or anything other than my obligations, quite frankly. My lifestyle revolved around events, eating and drinking, from work to family, and consequently, I wasn’t scoring very high in the health department.

It was only when I made the decision to get myself into better shape did I open a door I never expected to open, where I’d see my life and the world around me in a completely different light.

About two years ago I chose to really ease off my alcohol consumption because I thought it was playing too big a role in my life, and if I wanted to get in shape I figured it was the best place to start!

In the first little while I didn’t adjust any of my normal routines; the only thing I did differently was drank sparkling water with lime instead of with vodka. It was a conversation starter and my friends were curious but other than that people just got used to it. What did change however was how boring things became.

Business trips were so repetitive, hockey games weren’t as fun, friday nights with the boys weren’t all that interesting as the communal buzz increased; I found myself starting to bail out of sheer boredom. It’s almost as if the normal routines I’d enjoyed for years were difficult to endure without the help of a 2-beer buzz.

As time went on my ability to small-talk plummeted and I found myself spending a lot more time alone.

I didn’t fear missing out anymore because I realized how repetitive everything was; I knew if I went back 5 years later, the same people would probably be in the same place talking about the same things. I wasn’t becoming the most popular with work, family and friends because my absence was becoming noticeable; I didn’t care though.

I didn’t mean for this to happen when I chose to ease off drinking, I just wanted to clear my head and get in shape, but the longer time went on, the more I started to see.

From lunches to dinners; from nights out drinking to weddings, it’s almost as if I’d freed up 40 hours per week. I sure as hell didn’t need that much time to work out and there was only so much TV I could watch.

I now had time to think, write, pick up my guitar again, read books, use the internet to learn instead of scroll, like and swipe endlessly. I enjoyed the silence. It’s as if I escaped a world where it was a constant race to the next event; I felt so relieved. I had become an outsider looking in and began asking questions.

When I was in the “loop,” I never seemed to be saving any money, I never could stay in shape and I was always in a rush; it’s almost like I was too distracted or busy to ever think about those things, or even be aware of them at all.

Now that I was seeing differently, I had the ability to question my decisions and react accordingly. I drove a luxury SUV, why? It was a waste of money, so I got a little hybrid a quarter of the price. I lived in a big, maintenance-nightmare, place in the country where my commute was 80 miles a day, so I downsized and moved to an apartment in the city.

I can go on and on, point being when I was constantly distracted, I never even came close to coming up with strategies to alleviate myself from the things that took up my time and money. I just dealt with them and considered them constants in the formula of my life; I never realized I was busy being busy. As I got older, the obligations, commitments and responsibilities were overwhelming, and piling on exponentially every year. I’m glad I jumped ship when I did.

For some reason when I was distracted I was very concerned with my place in the material world, but in my now logic based decision making thought process, no-brainer decisions like downsizing my lifestyle and abandoning tradition seemed to shock the circle of friends and family I grew up with.

I now realized how big a part routine played in my life, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Alcohol wasn’t the culprit; it was only an agent of distraction, and it seems there are many.

I used to like to go out and get drunk, but in my opinion alcohol is only one of the many variables in a very simple formula. Events, sports, drugs, food, politics, work, TV, sex, news, even family… It seems like they can have the exact same effect as drinking did for me. Alcohol kept my mind busy, distracted and in a continuous loop where I was increasingly burdening and indebting myself, preventing any form of critical thinking, progress or even acknowledging the fact I was in a hamster wheel.

It’s been 2 years now and I have less responsibilities, less commitments and much more productive routines. I needed to make a lot of money before because I spent a lot of money, but as I cut things out of my life, I have a much lower breakeven point and it’s given me a lot less financial stress, less mental stress and so much more freedom.

My point is not how I increased my bottom line, my point is I realized I had a lot more time than I thought, way more.

If I was at that barbecue I was invited to right now, repeating something I heard about Donald Trump, half in the bag, I wouldn’t be writing this, you wouldn’t be reading this, and we wouldn’t have the opportunity to potentially spark a meaningful conversation about why it is we’re being distracted.

I’m a big fan of asking questions, why do you think it’s so easy to be distracted? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Hi, I’m Mich Manaras, 30, from Montreal, Canada and I write and make music about whatever I’m feeling under the name Oh Mic!

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