Last month in this space, we explored the value of treating certain words/phrases as red flags in our lives. From your comments/emails, it appears at least one of them struck a chord: busy. There was agreement about the broad usage and suggestions of other ways to phrase it (e.g., “life is very full”). However, at the core, the goal wasn’t to find a friendlier wording but to instead use it as a prompt for introspection into our own lives.
As Suzanna and I packed up Thanksgiving leftovers, a metaphorical analogy came to mind that sheds light on this topic. Consider our lives as containers, and the leftovers represent all the activities and commitments we try to accommodate. Overfilling the containers offers no advantage, except, perhaps, for our vigilant Australian Shepherd, Sky, ever ready for a tasty morsel. Rather, we are presented with three options:
- Choose a larger container: In the realm of life, this involves creating more time by refining our scheduling, minimizing TV or social media consumption, and making transitions more efficient.
- Keep only the essential leftovers: Just as we discard excess or focus on favorites when packing leftovers, in life, it means scrutinizing what we add to our schedules. Assessing our current life phase is crucial. Is now the best time to tackle that ambitious goal, volunteer for a cause, or commit to season tickets?
- Design a more efficient container: Just as creatively designed containers can handle overflow without damage, our lives can follow suit. The Catalyst Cornerstones—solid nutrition, consistent sleep, daily activity, and quality connections—are not just healthy choices but optimizing choices. A well-tuned machine, including the human one, is far more productive than an alternative running at half speed. Maybe we seemingly have plenty of time, but running at a reduced capacity makes even minimal daily activities feel overwhelming.
The term “busy” isn’t merely a state of mind. Positive thinking won’t magically resolve scheduling challenges. Instead, it serves as a red flag signaling the need for change. We can make room, streamline input, or enhance our capacity. Persistently adding to an already overflowing container benefits no one except, perhaps, our ever-hopeful companion, Sky.