A busy life, a full life, stress and calm

This short piece from Huffington Post makes a good point about modern life. Everyone is so busy! People's lives are filled with work, drive time, classes, workouts, kids' activities, and so on. Many of my patients complain about a lack of downtime. Scott Dannemiller makes a good point about the busyness that is in our control, versus that which is not. He also makes a good point about how we frame that busyness for ourselves with our words and thoughts. I've reflected before that the excessive busyness that plagues many Americans is a product of wealth. You go to your workout because you can afford a gym membership. You drive your children to dance, music and sports because you can pay for all that. You have money to go to yoga four times a week, or take that ceramics class or weekend fishing trip. (Dannemiller points out that poor people suffer from the busyness of three jobs, which is not in their control, but our focus here is things over which we have control.)

Given that these things are in our control, how can we change them to make ourselves happy and peaceful? Dannemiller adjusted his words and thoughts. He opts to say, "Life is full" rather than "crazy busy". Living a full life sounds like much more fun to me than living a crazy busy one! How would your outlook change if instead of saying "busy", you said "full"? I think that is a stroke of genius, and I tip my hat to Mr Dannemiller.

Another option is to do less. Just do less. I have tried suggesting this course of action in the past, and patients tick off reason after reason why this, that, and the other activity can't be culled from the weekly schedule. Those reasons are 80% enjoyment, and 20% obligation, usually. And that is how we circle back to "full" rather than "busy". If 80% of the things that make us "crazy busy" are making our lives richer and more enjoyable, why do we talk like they are making us unhappy? 

As people with enough money living in a free society, we have the ability to change our lives. If you want more down time, make more downtime. If on reflection, all that stuff you do really does make your life better, then talk about it that way! We live in a city of amazing opportunity! No one could ever exhaust all the things there are to do, see and learn in Portland, Oregon. Take what you want, enjoy it for yourself and your family, and be happy!