What’s your definition of a good life? A few years back, the general answer to this question would be living a luxurious, comfortable life and having lots of time to soak it all up! With times changing, this definition seems to have changed as well. According to a recent study by Harvard University, being busy and having no time to unwind is what many people today consider a covetable status symbol.
An excerpt from the study reads, “In recent years, ads featuring wealthy people relaxing by the pool or on a yacht, playing tennis and polo, or skiing and hunting are being replaced with ads featuring busy individuals who work long hours and have very limited leisure time. Busyness and overwork, rather than a leisurely life, have become a status symbol.”
Isn’t that bizarre? My personal motto is: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl. So I can’t fathom anyone voluntarily wanting to be overworked and then showing it off! That said, I do know a lot of people who are living this way. And I am sure you know these folks as well; why, you might even be one of them! Think back to the last few times someone asked you how you are doing, and chances are that all of your answers included the word ‘busy’.
Anil Merchant, founder of SocialDrv agrees and says that while catching up with someone, the conversation usually goes like this. “Hey! How are you?” “Good, good. Just keeping busy. And you?” “Yeah, same here! Keeping super busy. We have a new project coming out…”
Anil adds, “The original question was how are you, not how’s work. Yet in very little time, the conversation steers towards work with very little discussion about how someone is doing on a personal level. I don’t think this is something that people are necessarily proud of. I think it’s just a simple truth – life has become so damn busy. Everyone is constantly on the go and consumed with work. The distinction of work-life balance gets to be more and more non-existent as time passes. People take work home with them almost daily, sometimes on vacation even. Work has become such a focal point of our lives that quite frankly, it’s all we know to talk about. Doing something productive is necessary; an idle mind is never useful. However it’s important to maintain that work-life balance as well. Speaking of which, it’s time I get off my computer and go play with my dog for a bit!” (via quora)
Life in the fast lane
We live in fast-paced times and those who do not work as hard as their peers are either left behind or shown the door. In a smartphone-centric age like ours, the line between work and life has never been more blurry.
But who said that busy has to be a default state of being for most of our waking hours? And how did this become something to brag about? Why should anyone who is not swamped with work be considered less significant than those who are? I guess social conformity is to be primarily blamed for this. And to fit in, sometimes we pretend to be busy even when we aren’t.
Finding the balance
We all know that it’s okay to have off days, to switch off and take a break. Even so, we continue to saturate our schedules with work even on weekends and holidays. Being super busy is no boon; it’s a modern day disease! Let’s not overlook the many evils that come with being overworked—anxiety, stress, poor sleep, reduced social interactions, neglect of hobbies and side projects, and subsequently, reduced happiness and poor quality of life. These are just some of the many consequences of being perennially busy.
Make a conscious decision to take time out every week to pursue your hobbies, catch up with family and friends and just sit back and relax. When was the last time you did absolutely nothing? It feels refreshingly good. The great philosopher Socrates once said, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” I concur. You can keep your super busy badge, society. I’d rather have a life instead.
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar