I heard a statistic* this week that rubbed me the wrong way. It said that people who have jam-packed schedules and are busy all the time are more likely to live longer than people who tend to have wide open calendars, because when people don’t have full calendars they tend to get bored a lot, and the implication was that people who are bored are less resilient and more susceptible to illness…or something to that effect.
I may not have gotten the entire factoid 100% verbatim, but that’s not really the point of this post. Whether it’s technically true or not, I want to
talk rant about why I hate that statistic.
Maybe I have a perspective bias, but I don’t know too many people that are overly bored. The prevailing issue around me is people who have way too much on their calendars. In fact, I’ve crossed paths with a lot of people who are spread much, much too thin. Hurrying from one thing to another, with a never ending todo list, always late, always frazzled, always working under pressure. I’m guilty of it myself, sometimes, too–taking on too much and finding myself in the midst of stressful deadlines feeling overwhelmed and chaotic and exhausted.
What I hate worst about the statistic mentioned above, and the cult of productivity** mindset in general, is the underlying implication that it’s a good thing to be busy all the time, which is simply not sustainable. I’m all about getting things done, and consider myself to be a very productive person, but the suggestion that we should reaffirm an unhealthy tendency to run ourselves ragged in the name of living longer is completely missing the point. Of life.
I call shenanigans on the false ideal that we need to be busy and overextended all the time in order to be doing a good job. In order to live longer, or be socially accepted, or whatever it is that is pushing us to strive more and work harder to no end.
To me, the opposite of “busy, busy, busy!” is not bored. It’s intentional, it’s cyclical, it’s humane and it’s realistic. I’d argue that it’s even more productive, in fact, than our false ideal of constant busy-ness. But it’s focused and planned and energizing and not busy all the time.
If I’m sitting in a chair, doing nothing more than breathing, that’s a really good thing. We can all use a little more of that, and a little less go-go-go all the time.
Level of activity should ebb and flow naturally so that we’re busy sometimes, but the busy-ness is counteracted with periods of real rest. Todo lists should not be perpetually too long–they should be severely purged, with space remaining for new priorities that emerge, too. Even if that priority is to sit in a chair and breathe. Especially then.
It’s a crazy-busy, cluttered and overwhelming world, and I think our most-needed skill is the ability to look at something and feel out it’s actual value, then act accordingly. This applies to the stuff in our homes, the habits we cultivate, the media we consume and the activities with which we fill our time.
Thank you for reading. Rant over.
* It was on Jon Tesh’s radio show, which I don’t actually like listening to. But it was on, and I heard the factoid, and it made me mad, thus the roots of this blog post are exposed.
** Is that a thing? I may have made it up, but I think it exists.