I used to consider myself really busy. I always had a ton of things to do at work and my nights and weekends were filled with activities, meetings and family obligations. When someone would ask how I was I’d answer “Ohh, I’m busy… but good.”
I was constantly running around trying to get one more thing done. The downtime I did have I spent watching TV or movies.
Imagine my surprise when I unexpectedly had quiet time and realized that despite all the busyness and running around – I wasn’t happy! Sure I smiled and laughed and appeared to be having a great time, but that didn’t change the truth.
Merriam-Webster gives the following definitions for busy:
- a : engaged in action : occupied
b : being in use <found the telephone busy>
- : full of activity : bustling <a busy seaport>
- : foolishly or intrusively active : meddling
- : full of distracting detail <a busy design>
When someone says “I’m busy” they generally are referring to definition 2, “full of activity.” However, when I look back at the times I consider myself really busy I think a better fit is definition 4, “full of distracting detail.”
I always had something to do or somewhere to be, but it was all really a way to distract myself from the dissatisfaction I had with my life. It was easier to distract myself with busyness, TV, movies and the occasional good book then to figure out what to do about my dissatisfaction and personal unhappiness.
It takes a lot of work to stay busy, but it’s a different kind of work to determine what happiness looks like for you. A common message in our society is “You’ll be happy after you [fill in the blank].” The problem is happiness isn’t a destination.
If you tie your happiness to a specific goal – you’ll never be happy. This doesn’t mean you won’t meet your goals. Our natural tendency is to reach a goal and then set a new one. So, if you decide you’ll be happy after x, when you reach x you don’t say “Yay! I’m happy now” you say “Great! Now I want y!” And you never actually get to be happy, which really sucks.
Instead, find out what being happy each day looks like for you and know that it will change with time. My suggestions are:
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Make time for yourself – do one thing a day for just you that makes you happy
- Reevaluate your current activities and if they no longer bring you joy or make sense for your life right now – stop doing it
- Find out your Happiness Factor (really – it will give you a new perspective!)
The list could go on and on, but these four can make a huge difference.
What are things you do that contribute to your happiness? Share in the comments!