When was the last time you looked down while walking and saw the ground? You probably don’t remember. Everyone is constantly on their cellphones either texting about their next meeting or responding to an “urgent” email. Our society demands a fast paced life in order to achieve success. We are always trying to do as many things as possible in the least amount of time. We’re too busy to do anything besides work. It’s great that we want to be efficient, but is our efficiency harming us?
All of us have no doubt used the “I’m busy” excuse to get out of plans. This makes us look like we have social lives by virtue of not having one. Instead of taking out an hour in a day to enjoy a relaxed meal with a friend, many of us choose to grab take-out and eat while working. In Paris and Rome, people take the time to sit down and exchange intimacies with others instead of giving a rushed wave and “hello”. Even with this relaxed life style, they still manage to get all their work done. Clearly, it is possible to both relax and work efficiently. In the US, we get so caught up in our own business, that we manage to lose touch with friends and relatives. Although work is important, it shouldn’t take a toll on relationships with other people. Work will always be there, but friends and family may not.
We’re always trying to get things done quickly so that we have free time for later, but we end up using this free time to do even more work. Kind of ironic isn’t it? All this time that we are apparently saving — when do we actually use it for enjoyment? Hardly ever. We get so lost in our cycle of waking up early, working for 10 to 12 hours a day, and then crashing at night that we don’t hit pause for even a moment to breathe. What’s the point of slaving away at our jobs when we don’t even reap the benefits? We try to be less busy in order to do more work — not to take some time off and enjoy life.
Besides the side effects of losing touch with others and getting overworked, our health is also negatively affected by this busy lifestyle. Staying awake for long hours leads to great deals of stress and anxiety. There is also a second hand effect of our busyness. In his 2002 article “Bumping into Mr. Ravioli”, Adam Gopnik discusses how his three year old daughter Olivia has an imaginary friend, Charlie Ravioli, who is always too busy to play with her. Olivia had possessed a “paracosm”, a society thought up by a child. Living in New York shaped her mind and attitude so much that even her imaginary friend was too busy for her. Our busyness not only affects us, but also takes a toll on the younger generations.
Work is a necessity. Busyness is not. We all need to learn how to drop everything for at least an hour a day to enjoy ourselves and spend time with others. If we fail to do so, we will harm ourselves and those around us.