The Disease of Being Busy

Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 5:56am

The Disease of Being Busy

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”

Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”

The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.

After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.

How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?

Somewhere we read, “The unexamined life is not worth living… for a human.” How are we supposed to live, to examine, to be, to become, to be fully human when we are so busy?

This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.

Since the 1950s, we have had so many new technological innovations that we thought (or were promised) would make our lives easier, faster, simpler. Yet, we have no more “free” or leisurely time today than we did decades ago.

For some of us, the “privileged” ones, the lines between work and home have become blurred. We are on our devices. All. The. Freaking. Time.

Smart phones and laptops mean that there is no division between the office and home. When the kids are in bed, we are back online.

One of my own daily struggles is the avalanche of email. I often refer to it as my jihad against email. I am constantly buried under hundreds and hundreds of emails, and I have absolutely no idea how to make it stop. I’ve tried different techniques: only responding in the evenings, not responding over weekends, asking people to schedule more face-to-face time. They keep on coming, in volumes that are unfathomable: personal emails, business emails, hybrid emails. And people expect a response — right now. I, too, it turns out… am so busy.

The reality looks very different for others. For many, working two jobs in low-paying sectors is the only way to keep the family afloat. Twenty percent of our children are living in poverty, and too many of our parents are working minimum wage jobs just to put a roof over their head and something resembling food on the table. We are so busy.

The old models, including that of a nuclear family with one parent working outside the home (if it ever existed), have passed away for most of us. We now have a majority of families being single families, or where both parents are working outside the home. It is not working.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.

I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and face-paced sports.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote:

“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I am always a prisoner of hope, but I wonder if we are willing to have the structural conversation necessary about how to do that, how to live like that. Somehow we need a different model of organizing our lives, our societies, our families, our communities.

I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human. I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.

How is the state of your heart today?

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”


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Omid Safi

is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Thursday.

He is Director of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam, and the current Chair for Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion. In 2009, he was recognized by the University of North Carolina for mentoring minority students in 2009, and won the Sitterson Teaching Award for Professor of the Year in April of 2010.

Omid is the editor of the volume Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, which offered an understanding of Islam rooted in social justice, gender equality, and religious and ethnic pluralism. His works Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, and Voices of Islam: Voices of Change were published 2006. His last book, Memories of Muhammad, deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. He has forthcoming volumes on the famed mystic Rumi, contemporary Islamic debates in Iran, and American Islam.

Omid has been among the most frequently sought speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing in The New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, PBS, NPR, NBC, CNN and other international media. He leads an educational tour every summer to Turkey, to study the rich multiple religious traditions there. The trip is open to everyone, from every country. More information at Illuminated Tours.


Share Your Reflection



this is so excellent --

Thank you for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes and it is so very true. How is my heart - a little sad today

Judy, no sadness today… start with gratitude… even make a list.

Judy, Cate is allowed her sadness. I agree, gratitude is a beautiful practice and one I think everyone should practice, but please don't tell people what they should and should not feel.

Stephanie, thank you for saying that. ;-)

How is my heart today? My heart and soul are happy and at peace. Even with my struggles, I've learned to find happiness, peace and joy in life by being in the moment and taking that moment to find my center and find some peace which leads to joy and therefore happiness. How is this possible? It wasn't always, I was and in some ways am still connected/scheduled because I thought it had to be. I had to take "care" of my children, my household, my career...But I found Tia Chi and meditation and my life literally changed. My health isn't good so the tia chi had to stop but I still and will always meditate. I am completely unplugged at least once a week for an hour. That hour sets the tone for my entire week. It is a gift I give myself and this gift is shared with my friends, family and all of those around me. You have to make time for you in order to be there for those who need you. It took some very intense events to bring me to this understanding but it doesn't have that way for anyone else. Learn from me and the many others who learned this lesson the hard way and put it to use. Namaste

I admire your devotion to finding time to be still and meditate. I too need peace, sometimes to let myself process pain or fatigue or conflict. My most restful times are those where I can sit and watch water and sky knowing they have been here for an eternity that I am part of and I thank God for providing it.

I agree with you Stephanie, don't tell people how they should feel. Acknowledge their feelings and be there to support them. This past year I was treated for depression, no meds just behavior modification. I learned two very important things. 1. It's ok to say no. Just because I am able, doesn't mean that I have to do something. 2. Make time for me. At first it was 10 was maybe 10 minutes a day. Now I try to find a least an hour to read a book, play a game, go for a walk, quilt -what ever sounds fun and relaxing to me. When our children were little they were only allowed on activity outside of school. They needed time to be outside and play, to build with legos, or read a book. Time to just be a kid. I have to say my heart is good and I have time to visit with a friend or just read a good book.

I am so pleased for you that you were able to be treated for depression with behavior modification first rather than starting with medications. When I was suffering from a completely understandable, situational depression many years ago, the doctor's ONLY suggestion was Prozac. He would not even consider that perhaps I was depressed because my life was impossible due to circumstances beyond my control. His only idea was Prozac.

I left him and went to a psychologist on my own, but the psychologist had no ideas either. If I did not want to take medications that would make it more difficult to manage the problems I was having (schizoaffective teenager, two autistic school-aged kids, a toddler, and a husband who worked out of the country), then I was just going to have to figure it out on my own.

My method was similar to yours. I gave myself permission to do the things that would help me to relax when I had time to relax. I allowed myself the space to do things that society considers "time wasters" such as video games, television, and online conversations with strangers. My life was still hard, but I was able to stabilize my own mind enough to get through it, and as soon as I saw something I /could/ change to improve our lives, I changed it.

I agree kids need time to just be kids! I am very conceous of what my two are doing after school and am not afraid to say 'no you can't do that' and guess what, they're ok with that! Sometimes I even say no because I don't feel like doing something and again they're ok with that. Technology has taken over our kids, my son needed a chromebook for school at 9, I wasn't happy but we've put in some firm rules around home use and yip you guessed it he's ok with that as well. Yes I'm a busy parent on committee's, doing lots of fundraising but I have also recently stood down from things as I'm getting to busy and I don't want that. Saying NO is the hardest thing but we all need to say it a bit more, for our hearts! How is my heart heart is happy because I've taken a day off work just for 'me'.

Stephanie, it was Judy whose heart was sad--not Cate's. Never mind, by now both have likely bounced back and forth many times. Hearts keep beating--always on the go-- whether in sadness, gladness or gratitude. Busy hearts deserve to skip a beat now and again without it being the end of the world.

Thank you Mady, that was a succinct yet beautiful read.

The tendency to gloss over another's pain by turning to gratitude and other positive thinking methods is a direct symptom of the inability to STOP and BE with another's pain…because we cannot STOP and BE with our own…and this just makes for more sadness. Sadness is OKAY. IT is HUMAN. Cate, my heart is sad today too. It will pass, but I shan't turn away from her, nor from you. May you rest in your sadness completely and may she lead you into peace...

I think she's just trying to help Cate feel better. Giving her ideas, not actually reprimanding or criticizing her feelings. Thanks Judy!

Yes, I agree, cannot deny what we are feeling, sadness is allowed.

Gratitude and grief go hand in hand, this is where we often stumble, between he two, thinking them in conflict, binary to one-and-other. They are not. In grief, one can always source gratitude: the preciousness of what has passed, what is not enough, what is lost, what is unattainable...and, likewise, in gratitude there is always that seed of grief, in this moment of deep gratitude, I feel peace in my body, having taken time to breath, do meditation, some should work, to gaze out the window instead of at the screen, to recognize the sisters, tyne whalers, the friends in my life who support me.. My heart swells at this, and then suddenly, remembers, that often this support, this sense of time stopping, and just being there is lost. and Grief returns. I think the time to just be, to wander in nature, beauty, at, play, solitude, allows both into the inner dance. Our obsession with the trap of business is in part due to the fear of allowing grief, sadness, anger, and other so called dark aspects. Thanks for writing this excellent article!

yes, thank you, stephanie! :) wise words.

You said enough.. I'm feeling your sadness too :(

Such a sad, yet truthful commentary on our lives today. We can make time for family and life--we just have to be willing to let some things go and realize other things can wait.

So very well written. Thanks for sending to me. I needed to read this now in my life. You knew this dear friend. Taking the time to do what we need to do and what we want to do can be complicated. Life is way too short at our age. Health n family are first for me. Smiling, laughing daily n making a difference in others lives is essential. How we juggle all that is important to us is different to each of us. It's a "get to" to live life to the fullest!

When I was a child, my mother stayed home. We didn't even have a refrigerator until the 50s. Our indoor plumbing came in the late 40s after my father came home from WWII. We did without. We played outside all summer, coming in at dusk. No TV, but a radio. We had food, a place to live, family and love. Today, our children want everything now - the videos games, huge flatscreen TVs, Ipods, Iphones, Kindles, Netflix,etc. This is what they have been taught. We need to take a step back, rethink our lives, what is important, what can be done without. It'snot going to happen, because it's not easy and if it's not easy, forget it.

Marcia, I appreciate your comments on the article.

I grew up like you Marcia. Played outside all day long. When my mother over scheduled me with Art lessons, Ballet lessons, Swimming lessons etc. I had something everyday after school. I asked her to stop. I just wanted to be a kid. A little is good. A lot is not so good. I do think we all need to take a step back and relax!

EXACTLY! And it isn't right that we don't give our parents and grandparents credit for CHOOSING to live like this-they put people (their children and spouses etc) BEFORE material goods not because they always had to but because they chose to. When I hear how parents have to work, and no one has time for their families, I don't mostly believe it-they almost always choose to live in our culture's rat race of materialism. My grandparents and parents spent most of their lives in one home, we were the only household on our block that had two cars, all the other moms shared with my mom in emergencies, we had few toys, a very very simple upbringing. We shouldn't dismiss this way of life as impossible-it's an excuse I hear peers use way too much. Incredible sacrifices were made and just like Marcia said-if it's not easy, forget it.

It is important to remember that the distractions that exist today were not present back in our parents or grandparents day (I guess, depending upon your age - I'm 56). My mother would have loved to have worked, but it was just not done in her day when a woman was married with children. She was a miserable person and a not-so-great mother because that was not her calling. When I was growing up and even when I was raising my kids, there weren't year round sports options, cheerleading classes (I was a cheerleader in high school because I tried out and made it), smart phones, internet, a million channels on TV, video games, hand held video games, etc. We had one bathroom. We still do. It was the norm. It isn't now. So it is really not possible to compare those days with the present day because it isn't an apples-to-apples comparison.

I'm unsure of the relevance of this comment.
They point above is that human's capacity has not changed yet the options for things to do has changed as has the number of things we take on. Yes, doing less is harder and Yes not worrying about the joneses is harder and Yes being present is harder but they are all worth doing.

Thank you Jillian for this comment, for the reminder that this is a different time. And who knows if our parents, grandparents, etc. would have lived the same simple life if they had lived working and raising a family in this day and age. I get frustrated with the shaming of people when they say, "Well when I was raised, or when my grandparents raised my parents, we played outside and they sacrificed....etc" You can't compare the times in my opinion.

Thankyou. So poignant and true and exactly what I ask myself everyday...We all must slow down.

Thank you for sharing the truth about this disease. I'm sending it to all my friends and family in hope that it may liberate some and allow others to at least reflect. Thank you!

WOW thankyou for such a wonderful article. My heart aches for peace and contentment.

great reminder for myself. I've
Been busy that I forget to listen to my heart, to be present with my loved ones, to pause and smell the am I today? I feel sad...

I want to know more about the photo by Tom.

It's the inside of The Round Tower in Copenhagen. It's a beautiful shot isn't it.

Love the photo of Copenhagen!!!! One of the many attractions that beautiful city has to offer it's visitors.

Thank you for this timely and much needed message. Thank my dear friend for forwarding it to me

The hal of the world is the hal of individual it is busy and unhappy , lonely let us talk share and care we are humans

Is this you, Gretchen Rubin? I love you're books and the truth you've shared about being "mindful." It works! You've helped me see how to make better everyday choices.

It took me four or five tries to read this through. Interruptions. Sigh. Thank you. My heart is confused right now, and it seems there is not time to figure it out.

dear John. This is the state of many of our lives.

Funny, had exactly the same problem

Also because I was so 'busy' I skim read the article the first time to try and jump to the solutions!

Took a breath and then read it properly :-)

Ditto with the skimming. Nothing good every comes from rushing and we miss the point entirely.

I too was skimming just to see if I wanted to come back and read it all the way through at the end of the day. When I could be petting my dog and cats or reading a really good book or crossing off the Christmas to do's or wrapping a bunch of presents......well, I will start by being really thankful to have read every wonderful word, shut my lap top and sit. My heart is in contemplation. My heart wants to stay in this conversation but in person. Thank you so much!

72 in two weeks..a to-do list as long as my arm..this made me cry for myself and all of us. Even though I walk and meditate daily, I then cram all the other hours with "useful" tasks. Thank you from the mountains on the other end of our state for reminding me of what is really important.

dear Lynn, Thank you. We are all yearning for that state of communion.

Thank you for this. I agree totally. I think fiction can help some. Wendell Berry novels, Penelope Lively novels, Ernest Gaines, Gloria Naylor. And poetry. Again Wendell Berry, or Mary Oliver.

Yes, I do agree with you that literature, poetry, are all ways in which we can be brought to a quiet, meditative and reflective state of being.

R Watts Franklin: Love your response. I too feel good books help. And Penelope Lovely is a favorite author of mine. Heart sense.

R Watts Franklin: Love your response to these fine words. I agree that reading good books can help, and I especially savor Penelope Lively's writing.

Agree with your suggestion fiction can help, if only to refill our ability to dream and unwind.

Neil Gaiman's a good one,

My heart feels happy and hopeful when I read this, like there are others who have human hearts as well.

dear Cassia, it's a beautiful gift, when hearts connect, realizing that we all yearn after something similar.

This piece touches my life. Even though I'm retired from my career, my calendar is filled, as I offer spiritual direction, healing touch, a bi-weekly "soul circle," and time spent in various spiritual groups and book studies. These are all good and I feel I'm following my heart and living my purpose. Still, perhaps I'm too "busy." Then I read the author's short bio and I wonder, how can he not be very busy with all he has done and is doing? It's all good! But I wonder, how does he find the balance?

dear Connie, I assure you, I don't have any magical formula to sell or pitch. :-)
I am in this struggle as much as the next person. I am trying, and failing, in living this myself. As I heard said once: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett

I love this. Thanks for the reminder.

Amen and Amen

Absolutely lovely article, beautifully written. I am on a well-being path right now and have found your words very relevant. Tears leapt to my eyes when you explained haal and then later said: "Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch." I almost cried because I too, like all humans crave that connection, that touch. Thank you for writing this.

I love it about the Persian greeting,"How is your heart at this moment?" It is so deeply personal, so caring a question, inviting pause and consideration and honesty. Thank you for this writing.

I am so sad after reading this knowing that the dreadful treadmill we call life gets us no where.

I so agree, Adele. How much more sincere it sounds than our quick-not-to-be-answered-in -any-detail "How're you doin'?"


This touches my heart in a visceral way. I can't give a more detailed description of the way and the how because...I'm too busy to REALLY check in with myself! But soon (I hope)...soon.

I would respond but I am so busy!

Thank you, Omid. Reading your wonderful post today, I was struck by something. Wealthy families have self-imposed a frantically busy lifestyle on themselves; families at the opposite end of the wage spectrum have to work multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Those of us with adequate resources have confused busyness with self worth; it's heartbreakingly sad. I did see a little hope on Tuesday when voters across the country voters made it clear that everyone is entitled to a decent working wage. I'll watch with anxiety to see if our lawmakers agree. And I hope for those of us who can afford to slow down, let's do so, intentionally. And then advocate for those who cannot afford to do anything but work themselves to death.

Good points!

That was Insightful indeed! Alas decent working wage seems to remain a pipe dream

Interesting. The part about the child being booked for 2.5 weeks is just ridiculous. Those parents need a chill pill.
That being said, I would definitely re-evaluate what you are doing if you are that "busy." I think something else is going on. Kids don't need to be in activities beyond school EVERY season. Some jobs wouldn't even allow you to get all of the running around done! How can your weekends be that busy? Are the things you are doing REALLY necessary? Paying my bills and saving some money for retirement are necessary. Getting sleep is necessary. Very little else is and it is ok to say no.

Loved the photo. What and where is it, please.

Trent Gilliss's picture

Hi Chris. You may have already found your answer, but for the edification of others, this scene is set in Copenhagen, Denmark. The photographer writes:

"The spiral walk in the Rundetaarn, completed in 1642, is unique in European architecture - the 209 metre long spiral ramp winds seven and a half turns round the hollow core of the tower, and forms the only connection between the individual parts of the building (an observatory and church, still used, and a library which has been converted into a beautiful gallery area). At the very top, more than a hundred feet above the street, is a platform which gives wonderful views over Copenhagen."

Built by the Danish King in order for the Russian Zar to be able to ride to the top in his horse carriage.

I love this image. It reminds me of a visceral dream I had years ago but will never forget. I was scaling steps with the angels. Beautiful.

Not quite unique, there is a similar tower in Seville, Spain.

Nevermind. Got it. Thanks.

In so many parts of this article we could really think about the stuff happening in the modern world and its effects on us.
Really thoughtfully written article.

I frequently feel guilty about not being busy enough. Thanks for this. My heart is at rest.

Don't feel guilty.... being busy is a blessing. That is what has made us the best country in the world. Hard work and dedication.

This makes me so sad. I'm reminded of Martin buber's text I and Thou and the moment if turning toward someone is the moment of actually seeing them.

I am so thankful for these words, Krista. As a United Methodist minister, it gave me pause to remember that the first groups of "the people called methodist" gathered together centered on one simple question: How is it with your soul? O, for us all to be able to share in that truth with one another regardless of creed and culture.

my beloved "so busy" daughter is, I feel, slowly closing the door on me. Her form of conversation is taken up by telling me she's so busy, she doesn't have time to call me - except as she is pulling into a client's driveway (she is a very successful Landscape Designer). I sent her a quote from your piece which clearly states what I would like to have with her.
"What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?"
Thank you, Omid-jan, for putting the right - non aggressive words in my mouth!

This is great and so so true.
Even when we are not busy. we are processing in our minds things to do.
We are not truly present in what we do'and where we are.
As our minister prayers on Sunday "Still all voices in our mind and heart except yours, OH, God" Do it everyday.

This speaks right to my heart. We have chosen not to enroll our children in all the extracurricular activities, not to fill their days with technology, just to let them be children, at home, out in the world, creative, bored, exploring, playing. Sometimes I feel a panic that they will fall behind their peers, they will miss out on what childhood was for their generation. And then I remember. No. We are created to have wide margins on our life, to think, to create, to explore and serve and wonder. As a parent I feel called to push back again the busy-ness and keep these wide open spaces for them as long as I can. By doing so I am carving more space for me to breathe deeper, too.

Thank you for sharing this comment. As parents of three little ones, trying to protect them from this culture where not only busy-ness but also stress is glorified and made the subject of competition, I often wonder if there are any other young families out there doing the same thing and worrying whether our kids will some day have to pay the price for our choices. It seems like the clarity found in articles such as this one is often only achieved after the busy-ness of parenting is a memory and can be viewed as a learning experience. I am thankful to see that another mom's heart is telling her to move in the same direction.

Laura, your comment offered recompense for running the gamut of distressed laments and doleful resignation on this page. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thanks for the inspiring reminder to those of us who have forgotten, but know in our bones, that the more materially blessed pockets of humanity were not always so joyless, nor do they need to be now. It may require compromise, but we CAN opt off the treadmill and out of the litanies about stress and busyness that now serve as responses to greetings.

How can we be so sure of that? Because you are doing it. Because we know others who have pulled back (and often suspect placid, affable strangers of doing so). And because these conditions did not spring ready-made from the earth. We ourselves created them. If we have ratified them, over and over, by our willing participation, then we can also revoke them.

I'd be willing to bet a considerable sum that in a decade or two, once past adolescent pressures to conform, your children will thank their stars they drew you as their mother. And that the overscheduled children of vicarious strivers will envy your kids their ability to savor life, moment by moment, whatever the titles, trappings, and "net worth" they have, or have not, acquired.

Dear McGiver,

Your response was brilliant! As a teacher of many young students whose parents regularly brag about how " busy" their children are due to the ridiculous amount of extracurricular activities they are enrolled in, I can't agree more with your prediction of how these children will fare beside the other ones whose parents simply allowed their children to "BE", explore, make mistakes, learn on their own without fear, reflect, dream, be bored and have that precious commodity we call time to spend it how they choose! As the second child of six, my parents didn't have a lot of money to spend on the material things kids have today. We chose to do one sport activity we loved , after trying several; we were exposed to music in the form of lessons and concerts and we were outside most of the time until it was dark and we were hungry! We spent hours reading in big comfy chairs, made crafty things with our hands, went on nature walks every Sunday with the family and could afford one family vacation a year where we could all stay in a hotel..this was a treat! Sadly, many children today are overwhelmed with the choices and need our direction more than ever! Its a tough job to say " NO" in this environment that we ourselves have created. Tough, but not just takes conviction and strength of character!
The big question still remains: How are we to change this mindset that being busy = being worthy! Kudoes to all those parents who are letting their kids just "be" and not jumping on the bandwagon of busyness just to keep up with what the neighbours are doing!

Laura...and other parents,
My daughter is now 19 and the product of a "real" childhood. No television, video games(what are those?) and crazy running aroundness.....lots of nature, artwork, writing and performing plays, dress-up and good books with good role models. My daughter incredible human...compassionate,insightful,mature,thoughtful,capable and happy! I really think she is the person she is today because of this.

Thank you for sharing, to give support to those of us who resist the treadmill! I have found a middle-ground for me and my family, and with the Lord's help, I am able to be a human being, not a human doing. I work very hard to not be in a hurry, so when life's little side-trips happen, I am prepared to be loving, patient and kind to others. I am rewarded with looks of awe, appreciation and even little conversations with strangers that allow us to connect. Sometimes I almost laugh out loud when I've told someone, "Take your time, I'm in no rush." and they look at me like I have two heads!

I try to be aware of what I treat like a "god" in my life. Because where our thoughts are, there our heart shall be also. Using this reflection helps me keep my priorities straight, God, family, friends... and everything else seems to fall into place.

It can be difficult when someone you think is a friend looks at you with distain because you are not taking your child to this free festival or that fun activity... but I persevered. Those activities may work for my friend's family, but it is too much for mine. In my family we look into each other's eyes when we talk. We wonder what we will do this coming Saturday. We know our neighbors and take time to shoot the bull and laugh. Just last night, our family created a soccer-volleyball fusion game with a four-square ball in the driveway and our son can't wait to play again tonight!

Your family has it's own unique balance, I encourage you to seek it with fervor and set up boundaries to protect it from things that would destroy it. God's blessings to all!!

Might part of the problem with dysfunctional busyness be the way we frame reality to children, the values we embed in our communication with them?

Can a daughter be truly "very successful" if she is too busy to find time for the person who gave her life and equipped her for adulthood?

Good point that did not occur to me.

This is so right. I often feel so disconnected from myself and from other when I am in this state. When I am shoe-horning in visits with friends and family in between meetings and meal prep and cleaning and exhausted to the point where I have no time for myself or others. Thank you for reminding me to take a breath, and spend some time being human, not running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

This article gets at the crux of the matter in my life, as so many others' lives. As a recent college graduate, I feel that if I'm not doing something every minute of the day that helps me reach my career goals, then I am a failure, an unstable millennial, and I will not have a shot at what I want to do most. I feel this is due to an overwhelming amount of pressure to "get ahead" in life. This article has helped me re-examine why that is, and how I can step back from it all and reflect. I'm okay.

I feel exactly the same way. So busy trying to build my "career" without taking the time to ask myself if this is actually what I want from life.

this is gorgeous. Thank you. I'm saving this, sharing it and will hOld it in my heart. Thank you

I have something even better for you to share! In Judaism, we say "what is your peace?" when we ask others how they feel. That reflects the way that we wish to each other and wish to the world.

Great article.

See also: Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left by Mark C. Taylor (Yale University Press, 2014).

I just want to thank you for this wonderful essay. I just recently gave my two week notice to a job that was the epitome of making one's life incredibly busy. Lots of pay for a workload that would drive someone mad. Now I am adrift but know that my soul has been saved. It is believing that we should all be human and that we should take time for ourselves and those we care about that has saved me. Again-thank you!

Beautiful... Amen!

In truth, I set out to organize my whole life around reflection and managed with some success, although it meant losing so called career opportunity, the respect of many do-oriented friends and family, and ultimately feeling like such an outsider as i peered in on the lives of those who are so, so busy and don't have time to wonder how I tremble in my boots because I look daily upon the dark corners of my soul. It is a lonely, lonely life and I often wish for some of that busy-ness just to keep me company. Just a thought from one who is not so busy....

Vanessa, I agree with your comments. I think busy-ness is a way of not having to think about the dark corners of the soul. I like your phrase, "busy-ness to keep me company." And in this culture--busy-ness is definitely a marker of self worth.

I know exactly what you mean Vanessa! Busy is a great escape from those dark corners and often a positive one. Balance is what I seek, speaking from the point of view of some one who has been both too busy, and not busy enough at times. and still. Balance! great contemplation here. Thank you all.

This was a great read. It's actually a relief to hear that others suffer from the "Disease of Being Busy." I can relate on so many levels. I am slowly turning into a person that doesn't have to time to do anything other than check my emails, respond to emails and work work work work. What am i saying...I AM THIS PERSON! Having said that, I don't believe it's all that bad to dedicate my life at present to something like a career that I love and a business that I am trying to build on my own. Maybe this topic calls for a blog posing in and of itself. Can anyone else relate?

I am so thankful to have read this post! I am learning how to slow down, enjoy my family & just be human. You are so right & I pray many people are touched by your words in a positive way.

This is so very helpful... a wonderful invitation to the challenging and messy practicalities of living a spiritual life (or simply a human life) today. How to not let busyness take over one's life? And to reflect upon what kind of life am I creating in the midst of all of the "busy" tasks I have to complete. Thank you for introducing me to the term "haal". What a useful way of thinking about how we talk to each other.
Again - very well done.

Also - I love the phrase "jihad against email." Perfect.

This is so true for me - When I ask others how they are doing, I really want to know. In turn, I so deeply crave the time and space for heart filled conversations with others about how I am really feeling. I would love to hear how others make this happen, especially with young children and work to do? Do we make regular meetings for tea or wine with our friends, in the early hours, or later at night? How do we ask those we love to make this space for us? So many questions, and thanks for spurring them into form today...

Today is my 50th birthday. My heart woke up happy with birthday wishes from around the world. Yet a little angry closer to home. Reading your post is a beautiful reminder of what is important in life. I will now turn off all my devices.

My heart is broken. I stay ridiculously busy so that I don't have to feel it. So that I don't have to burden people with it. Tears.

Anne, I get this. I am sorry for your pain. It took me a long time to learn that what we don't allow ourselves to feel or work through only keeps resurfacing later until we deal with it. Now I allow myself a small window of time to not deal with things and then I make myself deal with the feelings.
Can we ever really burden someone else who truly is asking how our heart is? I don't think so. May your broken heart heal a bit each day.

Anne, I'm so sorry.

So glad I took the time to read this. I'm, unfortunately among the busy, busy, people, too. I do make an effort to unplug daily and be by myself and with my family. I live in an area without great cell service and often it aids in my much needed disconnect! I find making music with my friends centers me and keeps me in touch with human reality, not the crazy world running in circles around me.

I am crying as I finish this writing about the heart and from the heart. Last night I spoke long and in depth with a friend on the phone (we've been too busy to meet) and opened my heart about just these issues. As we both think about taking new steps in work, we think about how to live the truth this piece expresses. And we don't know. But finding out as best we are able matters, matters, matters. Thank you for this essay.

Dear Omid:
Thank you. I see the same situation with my coaching clients. The issue of overload and email tyranny often arises. David Allen (productivity guru) has excellent ideas on managing time, emails and delegation and related practices. I find, at the same time, a deeper dimension of the issue is that we too often hold on to "being busy" as a way of demonstrating our importance and value. The first step is to be very honest and gentle with ourselves about what we can "stop doing" or can "say no to" or "delegate" or "involve others in." When we feel the tug not to let go then that is a valuable time for reflection about why (is it truly essential or core work?, then okay AND not everything is). I do think it is crazy to overload children's schedules ... why 3 things why not one per season ... the child can go deep on that activity and have time to play. ... Final thought, when finding time for reflection is difficult I ask my clients (and practice myself) a quiet mindful moment with ones morning coffee/tea/hot water ... feel the cup its' warmth, take a sip feel the warmth and flavor in your mouth, observe how it feels going down our throat, etc. Then after a minute or two ... spend the next minute observing how your body feels (tense? what is that about?), then another moment to ask what is most important to me today (or anything else we need to be present to).
It takes a strong intention and regular practice to keep balance in our lives and it's worth it. We only have one life. Please read this as invitation without judgment.

This article is was a superb reminder to me that we are in control of our own fulfillment and commitments. At the end of the day, our haal is more important than completing someone else's checklist. Thank you for writing this and putting it out there!

Speed Kills
Fast is never fast enough
Mark C Taylor (Columbia)

Another piece that relates to this was Tim Kreider's Busy Trap in the NYT:

I recently left a job that left me so overwhelmed with work - never enough time to get everything done, compounded by a never-ending cascade of emails and meetings, and more emails and meetings - that I wasn't able to enjoy life as it is happening. Before launching out on my own - where I will set my own hours - I'm taking a few months off to just be. I thought it would take some time to detach from my previous work, but it came very naturally and very happily. It's amazing what a "not do" list will do for one's heart.

I especially like the comment about our unwillingness to be bored. For the last 10 years or so I have found quiet solitude extremely uncomfortable; being alone in my own thoughts sends me into an almost instant panic. Your article has given me a lot to think about. Thanks for that.

Wonderful piece! Thank you so much! I've been thinking about these issues a lot the past several years. Trying my best to interrupt this dynamic but so very difficult as a parent and the main breadwinner for my family in this era of downsized lean and mean workplaces. This really does need to be a structural conversation. I hope that On Being will continue to be a place where we can discuss what is and could be -- and how to get there. Discussions like this are precious and few. Thank you!

I am so guilty of this. Thank you for the reminder. I am retired, healthy, and still rushing through every day. I don't even have many friends anymore because I am always "so busy". I am ready for a change. Wish me luck!

this...gave me life! love it!

Thank you... I long to live in a culture where people sit and talk and spend hours discussing whatever they wish, film, books, life, beauty, travel. Everyone is too busy and there ends up being some of us who are lonely for some one on one conversation.

Having retired last year it is so wonderful to revisit older women and just talk,hug, share. My husband and I have intentionally stopped being in a hurry. When God puts a person in our path we stop to really listen and sometimes that is really, really hard. It is amazing though with most people when a loved one is very sick they put busysiness on the back burner and spend hours caring for that one. Spending time alone with God fills our hearts so we can truly love humanBEINGS.

You are so, SO right about the answer I *want* to hear when I ask someone how they are. I don't want to hear about the busy... I want to know how their heart is. Hopefully enough people will see this so we can spread this message. Because being busy really is a disease.

Passing this along to all my diseased humans

And...God has three speeds: slow, slower, and stop. (creative ways to wake up your spiritual life)

I remember the endless amount of time I had as a child. Countless hours spent in the library, riding my bike, at the swingset, high above the Missouri. I can pinpoint moments from that time and they define me. But I have lost the ability to recognize and savor simple moments that fill my soul. There is only work. Scant hours of sleep and work again. Work that fuels the economy and ends up in a landfill. Weekends are filled with hurried, gulping activities...trying to fill each second with something different, something to make me forget.

Beautiful, beautiful piece. Your words speak to all of our hearts. My heart is at peace.

I WILL read the essay, I will. But right now, I'm just taken back to Rundetårn in Copenhagen where the picture is taken.

If we would only heed this sage advice.

I am at a loss for words, but have to express my gratitude. Thank you for this. From my heart and soul, thank you.

I had reached my personal limit for being busy at the end of my kids' school year this past spring. I decided not to plan any summer vacations or to enroll them in any sports, camps, lessons, or activities of any kind. One week after school let out, my father was diagnosed with an aggressive illness. The kids and I were able to pack our bags and travel to be with him immediately. We had two months doing nothing except being together, talking, laughing, and looking into each other's eyes and hearts. We were able to hold my father's hand at the time of his death and to comfort each other after he had passed on. Being "un-busy" this summer is the greatest gift I've ever received.

I made it a practice a few years ago to stop saying "I'm so busy" when I was asked. Now I respond, "Life is full!" (It creates a different feel in me somehow.)

One of my favorite quotes on my Pinterest boards is: Stop the Glorification of Busy!

Many years ago I had been rushing my then 3-year-old daughter with, "hurry up, Nora, hurry up." She stunned me when she turned and said, "You know Mom, time isn't really real. It's just a way to organize your day." 3-years-old! Her wisdom made an indelible impression.

Beautiful and just what I needed today. My heart is sad today.

This reminds me of a quote I use to keep things in perspective, "Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life." -Dieter Uchtdorf

This is beautiful, Dr Safi. I'm excited to share this with my students in a health psychology course. So much meaning to "How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?" Thank you.

Thank you dearly. i want this too!!! I am so lucky to have found a partner who wants it too. We are going to buy a camper van and travel and think for years!

Very nice.

In my heart, I am so with you. One of the loneliest states of being is to be a human being in human doing world, and you have put that song to words just beautifully. Thank you.

Thank you for this encouragement. We are trying so hard with our guard their free time. It is so easy to over-schedule and it is sometimes so difficult to turn off all of the devices, but we are trying. Thank you again...

As I read this I still was dealing with an internal struggle that this article is long, should I take the time to read it or get my busy work done? I forced my self to be still and read, I have been focusing on the thought that if I just slow down I will get there faster! Thank you for putting into words what is truly important. I will try to begin to do the soul searching you talked about and to look into the souls of those I love.

Thank you for putting into words what I have been feeling. I have to admit while I was reading this article I was acutely aware of the time I was taking to read it and wondering how long the article was, and if I had enough time to finish it! Most of the time I do not allow myselfto just be. I have been reflecting on something Marie Howe's daughter said, " If you slow down you will get there faster ". Now I will not take the time to reflect on that but to also do some soul searching. I want to start to ask people what is in their heart and not what's on their schedule. Thank you for a lovely reminder of what is truly important.

I agree with your quote about how slowing down will get the job done faster. I have experienced this in my own life as well. In my experience, this reason mostly has to do with better planning and making fewer mistakes. I was also reading an article on Huffington Post titled "Why Going Slow Will Make You Go Faster", according to the article, this idea is being used in the corporate world as well. I will post the link to the article below if anyone wants to take a look. maudal why going slow will make you go faster page

Isn't this a novel idea?
Look me in the eyes and talk to me. I will listen.

Tell me how you feel today?
Happy, sad in any way?
Look forward to everything
Wait and see what life will bring...

My heart is at peace. I am blessed.

I'm so tired of being busy.

Your reality is determined by the amount of technology you allow around you. You come into the room and it is silent; then you turn on the TV, and then the computer, and on and on. Embrace the stillness. I once had a group of 5th graders go and read poetry under a tree.(Walt Whitman had suggested this about the power of being under a tree- and if you ever did it as a child you know what he is talking about!) They all came back "stoned" by the experience. They had never experienced that kind of calm and silence. Once they calmed down, they listened to the nature sounds and read some poems. When we came back to the classroom, they shared they're phenomena-it was outstanding, and I don't think they will ever forget it! That is the power of nature.

I love this. This needs to be said and talked about more. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stumbled on your article from a share on Facebook. :) I hope more people spend their time reading it, reflecting on it, and sharing it with others.

If the whole world could grasp this concept with sincere contemplation and gain even an ounce of clarity in a means to change their ways, we'd be living in a better place.

Here's to continued hope.

Perfectly said. Thank you!

Being busy is sooooo 2000-late! Way overrated and people love saying how busy they are like they are trying to "out busy" everyone around them. I've learned how to de-busy myself and have tons of free time and its pretty amazing!

Very well said...'out busy' and 'de-busy'. Absolutely right!

Omid, it's been a long time since I have been in your house, and my heart has gone in many directions. I would argue that most wisdom traditions have practices to help with this sense of distraction and loss of knowing one's own heart. The ones I know best and that perhaps have been laid out in the clearest progression are from the Buddhist tradition. We hear a lot about mindfulness meditation these days, and there is beginning to be good science showing that it does have several benefits. It's not a cure-all, however, and is actually only a fairly introductory step on the path to self-knowledge and "enlightenment," if I may use that word. A summary can be found at

I would be very interested to hear what the practices are in the Muslim tradition.

Humbly sharing my experience on liberating myself from the busy disease: committing to a twice daily reflective practice as of 2 years ago has enabled me to gradually shift my perspective, revise my priorities, and align my actions/choices with these priorities. (And it helps that I have a like-minded partner) Life is much better now! I'm a physician and my life is full, but not too full, and now in an energized way, with adequate time for "being" and for people; no longer the soul-crushing busy that it used to be. My meditation practice has been key in helping me stay on the right path, and make the incremental changes that have transformed my life (I like to think of my daily practice in one sense as ensuring that I'm oriented to my compass each and every day). I started with 5 minutes a day and gradually increased to my current half hour twice daily. Change is gradual, incremental! With metta.

Maria, I love this idea. Do you have a couple of 5 minute guided meditations/reflections that you recommend?

Maria, for a great 5 minute meditation,I recommend "Silence Your Mind" By Dr Ramesh Manoch, available on amazon and ebay. I use it regularly and it helps to settle the conscious mind and help unfold what the unconscious mind is making us anxious about.

Josef Pieper's book "Leisure: the Basis of Culture" speaks to this issue and is a classic. It was written about 1950, but very pertinent. It tells us that leisure is important for individual and communal flourishing.

Thank you for writing this. As an over-scheduled student at the aforementioned "study hard, party hard" university and someone inundated with emails, texts, messages, calls, etc., I really appreciate you bringing the disease of being busy to my consciousness. Great article!

Of course everyone that reads this will agree. I didn't read it. Know why? I am too damn busy. The difference is that I know that I choose to be busy. We must be honest with ourselves, and others. When someone says, "i'll try to make it", they have already decided they are not going to make it. They made a decision, and in a sad attempt to give some type of effort to others and themselves, they say "I'll try". That's bullshit. Its a lie. That person doesn't care enough to go to the given occasion. They are lying to themselves and others. The result? Tangles in your life, and you'll feel more busy than you are. Feel that you have to spread yourself thin among 10 different things, when in the end you will do only 1. Yea im busy. And I like it that way. So sorry, Suzy, I cant make it to your dumb birthday party. I just dont care about you enough.

I was given a gift. I got laid off. And although times are's been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am home.

excellent analysis of contemporary society.

I am not busy. Because I am alone. I would trade busy for this in a heartbeat

Loneliness is the worst thing in the world. Listen to your heart and reach out to connect with someone. My heart is sad. Do something to help someone else with a sad heart. I think we are everywhere.

This is wonderfully said! I took the time to visit with an elderly neighbor that I have not seen for a while and we talked about this topic exactly. This hits home and my heart twice today. Thank you.

Outstanding! My feelings exactly.

So beautifully put.We are as a society suffering from this disease of busyness, which has somehow crept up on us during my lifetime. The only way to change this that I can see is for us each to find a path out of this overwhelming busy-nes, and to insist on building lives with time to just be. I love, "How is your heart." I think that's a great question to ask ourselves as we start each day, and to ask others we greet throughout the day. Thank you!

I think you are a voice in the wilderness, speaking this poignant truth. And, you have hit a cord. I often wonder if being present to others requires that I have less on my "to-do" list or if I can weave into every moment, intention and sacred awareness. This must be what Paul referred to as "pray without ceasing", or mindfulness. I also want to know what is in my friend's heart but I am reluctant to ask. Not sure why.

Now, 4 months later, I have asked 4 friends "how is your heart?". Every time the response has been "oh, thanks for asking", "what a wonderful question". It was not difficult at all. Everyone appreciated the question. The conversation that followed was rich and precious. Thank you for planting this seed.

RIGHT ON!!! I try to make it a point of doing NOTHING work related before 8:00 am and after 8:00 pm. I use the "Home is my Haven" model and many days I believe it keeps me human, keeps me feeling, keeps me vital and satisfied. We have to remember that who we are IS NOT what we do for a living. A Doctor is in fact not a Doctor, but a human being with thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, struggles, etc... A student, is not simply a student, but a curious mind trying learn about and love the world. We must remember that "Who we are" is defined in our hearts and souls, not by our offices, name-plates, titles, or paychecks. Remembering our truest selves is key

It is 10:30pm, I am a mother of three. My husband is fixing something on my car. My oldest in 9th grade is doing homework and like most nights will be up till at least 12:30 doing homework. She had swimming after school. My middle is in7th. Stayed after school for help in math. Came home started homework. Went to audition for a school play. It took two hrs! She is still up doing homework. My 10 year old thank God is having a year where the teacher doesn't give homework. We wandered the library and he took out 8 books! I am taking a break from correcting papers. This is our life. We are human doings. I want teachers to stopadding more work on kids! They are burning out!
Our society thinks more is better. It isn't because we are filling ourselves up with the wrong stuff and are spiritually sick. I want to get off of the merry go round I want the world to slow down!

I think we all need to realize that we are good enough just as we are, that we don't need to do so many things to make our selves valuable or feel worthy. Or perhaps we should all stop being so greedy, wanting more than we are really whole heartedly capable of doing. Learn restraint, learn to say no. And be okay with that. Its a powerful practice, and one worth working with. I am still practicing...

Thank you for this very poignant reflection about busi-ness. I have been back in graduate school now for a few months and after not being school for almost ten years, adjusting to the class schedule and other demands are challenging for me.
I struggle with finding time to be bored and I miss that. I thrive on long walks where I find myself slowing down to the rhythm of my own possibilities. That is my speed. There I find my breathing.
I used to live in Thailand where the word for breathing - "hai jai," is translated as "give your heart." This used to remind that to breathe, to simply to be aware of that breath is to give to your heart.

Thank you for your writing.

WE certainly are all in the same boat. Recommended reading: The Shattered Lantern, by Ronald Rolheiser. Examines just what this article addresses. Wonderful read!

You brought new insight to me but also confirmed I'm not crazy as I've thought about some of the same things. Why is like a badge of pride to be busy? We say to people, "Keep'n busy?" and are satisfied when they say "yes". My heart is thankful for you and your much-needed message.

Thank you. I made time to read this. And my heart is better for it.

thanks, just what I needed, I try this with my childhood friend once in a while, we both end up crying but feeling so content

My heart is resting from the ongoing chaos at work. At the moment, I am thankful to have the opportunity to enjoy my loving husband.

One can have many things to do without being "busy" if one is present, mindful, with THIS thing, then THIS thing. One thing at a time.

My heart is both saddened and feels alive when right now. As a new Muslim who has been struggling to find her community in Washington state it makes me so happy that you write about and discuss the state of our hearts, and looking into our souls. You see I am a Sufi. And the community surrounding the one mosque here is very conservative and seems to focus only on the day of judgement, hell, and whether or not someone is a "proper" Muslim. I am heart is saddened by the fact that I am far too busy (I am a graduate student) and struggle with finding a balance between the demands of studying, my teaching assistantship, and my very real need for human connection. Thank you for this post

Thank you so much for the article! I think it will help me to change my life. Busy life. Hopefully very soon. thank you very much again!

Yet all we have in this existence is TIME!Oh the painful irony...Prayer is a wonderful tool to stop time , but often we approach it like it's on the to-do list.

Ahhhhhh, a clear clean voice in the wilderness,thank you friend........

I am at peace and my heart is full of love and gratitude that people are beginning to wake up and remember to treasure the present moment ~
Being human is such a blessing

Read Sacred economics and all will fall into place... The power we the people give to money nowadays is actually the power we should give to ourselves and our world around us. We can make this world a beautiful heartfull connecting place if we work together and stop competing for money that has been made artificialy scarce to make us compete for the sake of the ones on top of the pyramid for whom we are just pawns. Let us just find other ways to connect and let them have their money. If we the people agree that is doesnt have value, it wont have anymore. Just a shift of thinking.. Lets believe in eachother instead of a manmade creation that has far exceeded its needs.

I am writing a book essentially on the same dis-ease titled "The 7 Relationships of Life." The subtitle is "How to navigate life more purposefully and retain humanity in the face of 'modernity'." Not sure when the book will be done, but I have started a blog on the topic. Please see the link and please pass on the word.

The first time I read this was more skimming & jotting a grocery list. Then I set aside the pen, cleared my mind and truly read it. Slowly and thoughtfully. I have now emailed it to my husband, who works way to long and hard. Sharing with my friends. Thank you so much for this thought provoking article. Thank you for forcing me to slow down, breathe, and be.

I was working and I was so busy. I've been unemployed (no permanent job) since 2007 and I'm still busy looking for work. I get a temporary or contract position and more so than not, I get busier knowing that the position will end. Vicious cycle? Yes.

This is exactly what I have been thinking about lately. I have been making myself so busy as a means of not having to stop and avoiding looking at how my heart is feeling.

Wow, I'm glad we share the same sentiments! After reading your article, I wanted to share my favorite poem with everyone about the current state of our society:


What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

By: William Henry Davies


Art helps - as a means of reflecting, as a means of slowing down, as a means of meditation. It is my saving grace and when I schedule myself some art time I stick to it religiously, because although I am doing in this time it is all about reflecting on my state of being.

It merely reflects our aching reality nowadays....I am so busy :(

Thank you for this. We live in a world driven to distraction and feel guilty if we have an hour on our hands to read, drink coffee, chat, take in the world around us. At times i think its less "guilty" that we feel and just not relevant. Importance and relevance is signaled by a full calendar. I have this disease and want to find a cure!

Prifessor, thank you for saying what is in many of our hearts. Recently, I engaged in a conversation with professional colleagues, as we explored critical thinking skills. It appears this important skill is another victim of the disease of business/technology, too. But the decline of the family,our lifestyles and spirituality are tragic. It takes an ancient language family, which hasn't yet adjusted to technogy and modernity, to take us to school on how to be human. My heart, at times, is sad because we have firgotten. Thank you for this eloquently written reminder. Namaste

Thank you for this post. It resonates with me at a very deep level. As an engineer, I am seeking an honest, heart felt and practical solution to it. I don't believe that working "less", if done unconsciously will make us less "busy". It is more about being conscious of our capital L "life" budget, see where we are allocating our precious and very limited time and see if we are ok with that notion. If we are "too busy" to have friends or develop relationships or read books, maybe we are just not ready for the vulnerability of the above items or love ourselves enough to give them a try?

Thanks once again for this!
Great article

Beautiful. Thank you.

Makes me cry for the children and our culture. On a trip to Ireland several years back I was amazed at their quietness. We are lost because we believe we must compete, do more, have more.

I don't know how my heart is. I've never stopped to ask...

What a lovely reflection. I, too, am a prisoner of hope, and believe that we can and must have that structural conversation about how we can shift our culture toward connection and away from busyness. It's pieces like this that get the conversation started. Thank you for sharing.

I appreciate your honest reflection. Learning that we have nothing to prove is, I believe, at the heart of our being able to let go of the busyness and take time to just authentically "be".

My new response - "my heart is full"

Wow, this really spoke to my heart. Yesterday, my brother and his wife came to visit from out of town. He has not been here for over 4 years and they were only here for one night. As we sat outside in this beautiful Autumn breezy weather, I was trying to hide the turmoil going on inside me because I felt I must be up and doing something to be productive. I made myself sit there and after a while, it was so relaxing to know that I could just enjoy my brother's company, have great conversations, and the world would not end.

Beautifully stated, however, sad but true. We as a nation have filled our days with technological connection, but, lack the essential component of face-to-face quality time spent with others. Busy does not equal satisfying; we can be busy and very lonely, starved for that heart connection. Thank you for sharing this reminder.

"how are you?" no one really want to know how you really are REALLY - and to do somthing to heal it up .... there is no comforting, there is no connection. The only connection is between the soul and their digital devices ... so "How are you doing today?"

"I'm so busy" is code for I'm overwhelmed, exhausted, on the brink of losing it and don't know how to get my life back. It's a socially acceptable way to say my life is in total free-fall. Having a human-to-human connection in this fragile state can lead to total breakdown. I wouldn't dig deeper unless you are ready to help pick up the pieces.

Thank you, Omid. You have caused my heart to recognize the joy it holds today.

"Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch."

Wow- this really brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful message. Thank you for putting it so elegantly.

This pierces my heart. I am working to peel off the "doing" layers so I will have time for my family, my friends and myself. Thank you for reminding me so poignantly why I am doing this.

Powerful article that clearly describes the state of so many people today. You're aware of the "business" of your life but it is very hard to unwind and simplify. Spend time with those who matter without a "smart device" in your makes a difference.

so very true!

"A life less busy is a life more full."

When I find it hard to say no to things- getting involved in the community, making networking plans, making time commitments to deserving organizations and people- I force myself to take five deep breaths and it repeat this mantra. It's getting easier to do and easier to realize it's truth.

Great article.


God gave us a Sabbath day because even He understands.....

This is a wonderful, insightful piece of writing. I am 67 and retired, and am too busy. Not at all what I expected retirement to look like and I am looking for ways to make changes, thanks.

Thank you... even for the moment it took to read this.. and reflect. Thank you.

We've chosen to live in a smaller town, make less money, have a few close friends, and pursue creative engagement. Of course we have stresses but we are always mindful of their source; we don't take them as inevitable. Today my heart holds some sadness for a friend's situation but underneath, my heart is so grateful for the deep and broad richness of my life.

I suffer from this dis-ease and when I finally find the time to ask my heart how it's doing, my heart goes on and on about friends and family and how time keeps moving forward. I parent, I work full time and I go to school full time. I'm trying to find time to stop and be. I like to just be.

You can read as many books as you want but be mindful that it does not become a new version of business. They are only helpful so long as they are helpful. Putting your hand physically to your heart just once a day and checking in with where you are physically, mentally, and emotionally will make a world of difference. What you learn in that space will teach you more than any book.

This is totally how I feel and a constant/daily struggle......I have two kids, and I have to remind myself that it's ok for them to be bored - I find the most creativity comes from them when we are just home "being"...not "doing"...thanks!

my heart is at ease for the first time in two decades. I left my job that demanded my redefine and reconnect with my people and my world. I also have the disease of hopefulness.

The response of "I'm so busy right now" is one of my biggest annoyances. You may be busy but we are all busy. You may have your day planned out from 8 am to 8 pm in 15 minute blocks, but I don't and you know what, I'm busy too. I'm busy enjoying whatever activity it is that I am partaking in at that moment. I am of the opinion that those who are perpetually busy want to be that way. We all have 168 hrs a week. How we choose to fill those hours are up to us and how we prioritize out lives. If we prioritize our lives with e-mails to not keep people waiting then it is our fault. The person on the other end may just have to wait. And if in making that person learn to wait through habitually ignoring e-mails after 8pm, perhaps you are helping that person prioritize e-mail a little less.

my heart is at ease for the first time in two decades. I left my job that demanded my redefine and reconnect with my people and my world. I also have the disease of hopefulness.

Omid, I love this article. You nailed this. I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to slow down my careening world and my adrenaline addiction. I have a deep belief that these habits are the keys to our mountainous dis-eases.

I would love permission to re-post this article for my free membership, intercultural community dedicated to consciousness and understanding at

Thank you for your work, Omid!

This is beautiful, thank you so much. I long to ask people "how is your heart" and often do. And it always catches them off guard. My heart? My heart is important, you say? Yes. It is. And I care. Clearly you do too. Shukran.

As a very busy person this was extremely helpful and appreciated. I've passed this article along to my very busy family in the hopes we can slow down, connect, share and remind each other that we need to be human beings, not humans doing.

Joseph Goldstein has an excellent book that approaches "mindfulness" in a really accessible way.

It's a long book, but worth the read:

This article was excellent.

In India we also ask"Kya haal Hai"?But this was the first time to read your definition of the state of the heart- Loved your piece but also find myself padding how busy I am as a badge of honor! Terrible vanity to seem relevant as age and retirement relegates you to the wings of the life stage.
Will start heeding your advice to be present and enjoy each activity/inactivity and still discipline yourself to switch off and detach-the world goes on with or without you!

Great article. Not only are we too busy to really examine ourselves and our human connections, we are often too busy to even examine what is best for the businesses that we work for or on. We can get so busy with tasks that we don't leave time to really reflect on the big picture of the problem we are trying to address or really understanding the underlying needs of our customers. I think this is truly one of our biggest challenges.
Thanks for making me think.

Thank you for this article! My heart is well today, although apart from my love, his voice in a phone call not long ago, lifted my spirit.

Great wisdom!

I have a "full" day ahead, and here I go, allowing the title of this article to "distract" me from my intended goals... Should I call it distraction, or the answer to a lingering question? My lingering question resonates in the words of the author. "How is your heart?" How is my heart today, at the start of this "full" day that I want to look forward to, but that threatens to cut off my breath?

There is so much I want to accomplish in my days, and I am passionate about my goals. However, one thing I notice: no matter how full my day is, I will always stop to recognize a moment of grace, the call of a friend in need, an important exchange with my loved ones, and the hint to a moment of wisdom knocking at my inbox.

I was born in a small town in Southern Italy, in a house build around the time Columbus sailed to America. I spent there all my summers. Believe me, reflective moments, contemplation, beauty, fullness of the heart where part of my days growing up. Not too much got done in my home, I'm afraid! Too much ancestral wisdom reminding us that nothing is new under the sun. Too much good food,rich soil, and gorgeous turquoise waters; too much bright sun to repair from, the numbing sound of cicadas inviting us to long afternoon naps in the shade of the cool fig trees... Not much got done... No wonder my parents moved us to Rome, the bustling capital; no wonder I moved to America; no wonder I am in two graduate programs at once! There are things to get done in this world. I am passionate about getting them done. And, we get them done best when we don't allow routine to take over, when we make moments to feel our heart and our breath.

How is my heart, this morning? My heart is well now. I heeded the call of this wise friend, knocking at my inbox. All that I will "do" today, will be informed by this moment of grace. My heart breaths, and my mind breaths, and that will make it easier to complete tasks, both the big ones and the small. My life is full, because my heart is full. It is full instead of "busy", which means I am the driver, and not "the driven", choosing the doing, and the thoughts, and the feelings, gracing this day with my contribution to my own growth and that of my fellow human beings. Thanks to this wise friend whom I allowed to "distract" me from my "to do" list, this once "busy" day is going to be full with heart!

That sounds great if more people would stop to allow the other to be heard. I used to express my heart with others but usually I find they are not present. It made me feel not important enough to be heard. I took to writing my emotions, at least to feel like I expressed them, but you are right still missing the human connection. My heart today feels tired, let down, unsupported at times, yet there's a part of my heart that has hope. Every time I pay attention to it, that is the part I try to re-ignite and cultivate. So I talk out loud to God telling him my worries and my feelings and leave it up to Him to provide the safety, security and protection I need to get me through the day. I cannot worry about tomorrow any longer, if I have not began to live out today :)

I think:
'No one ever complains of over achieving. They complain of underachieving.'


Thank you so much for sharing these concepts; I have observed this happening and since I was fortunate enough to be raised in the 50's and did get muddy, played outside as much as possible, and had the experience of feeling bored, I luckily value and know how to relax. I observe many of my colleagues, however, struggle to get off from the technology and who have problems sleeping, etc. This is such a valuable issue, if we are to ever have ease and peace in the world. It starts with self-care, I believe.

So true. In my world, people's busyness is complicated by the fact that they are raising their families, and I have not yet been granted that privilege. As a single person, it becomes harder to even make new friends when people are just so busy all the time. I can't even boast receiving tons of emails to respond to. Almost no one I know still uses it, and even when they do, it's relay information, not make any personal connection. It becomes easy to feel alienated in a world like this, and I, too, wish there were more time for connection and reflection.

Thanks, I am trying to know if I am unconscious or secure about this particular moment, because I am in a limit o critical financial moment, but Im not worried about it. But makes me work hard and manage our resources. And I try not lose some intimate moments with my family. I really enjoy the articule. Sorry for my english is not my mother language :), Have a wonderful day.

What a wonderful, thought-provoking, true sense of our present day. How is my heart feeling today? Sad but hopeful

I found myself nodding my head with a wild yes to each word written. In my work as a mediator I so often speak with families who are so busy that they haven't had time for a real conversation in years. I also find that asking someone "How are you?" has just become so matter of fact, and we forget to listen to and pay attention to the answer we hear and give. Thank you for this beautiful essay.

Well said Im sharing this with all my "busy" friends if we all just try a little I think we can find peace within again! Thanks for the nudge.

I left my salaried job (with 2-3 hours commute per day) a few months ago to work from home on some projects - one to help my husband develop a portion of his current business, and the other is to explore my own business and creative ideas. I've also said no to many people and activities. So, I'm intentionally taking time to create a framework for a more balanced, less busy, more soul-satisfying life. When people ask what or how I'm doing, I say "nothing" - just for the perplexed and often horrified look on their faces - but follow up with a few details of my self-styled sabbatical. Their confusion often turns to a wistful "I want/need to do that, too."

Thank you. My heart is happy. And that is a great feeling

I think our busyness stems from our culture. We are driven to work, work... Produce, produce, produce... Consume, consume, consume. It's our leaders, wealthy business owners, and our fiscal economy which refuses to give us a break. I think if we saw a 3-day weekend, or a 6-hour workday; you'd see happier people. People are overworked, over stressed and sincerely don't have enough time. Even without piano lessons... Our leaders are abusing humanity for allegiance to the stock market. Want to connect? Want to see different responses? So do I... But we will never see it unless our leaders change and care more about spirit than money. People need a break. I think Europe has a wonderful balance- Everything doesn't have to be RIGHT NOW! Dolce la Vita.. Oh how I envy!


I appreciated this article because it make me acknowledge that solitude and down time are joyous moments in my life. I stay away from technology between bedtime and arrive at work time. No emails, no facebook, no nudges are allowed to interfere with that time.

Having 4 kids this has sadly become the life we lead. I think it's time to take it back to the basics so can realize what life is truly about. Great read!!

I could, until recently relate the disease.With three small kids and a husband with absolutely absurd working hours all my time and energy was aimed at being invested in "useful tasks" being carrier out All the time. After being on bed rest for a tendinitis and neck injury I've come to realize that nobody except me caused me so much pain.I my attempt to be a "super mom" I missed on a lot on my life and that of my family. My husband agrees and now we have actively taken steps to eliminate all unwanted " to do" and "just to keep them busy " things out of our lives and touchwood its a smooth sailing . I get my 7 hrs sleep everyday and am very proud of it.

Thank you, Omid. I just returned from the Mind and Life Institute's international symposium on contemplative studies in Boston. This was a 4-day exploration into ways to ask ourselves, how is our haal, as a world. This brings me hope.

This episode is spot on. Even in retirement I find it way too easy to stay "busy".

First we invented time, than clocks and later clockwise schedules.we created so many divides of a wonderful life enslaving it to seconds,minutes,months and years.A constant search of dollar on a tight rope of time.What a progress.

I love the idea of asking "How is your heart?"

I am afraid for our children. They learn by the examples of their stressed parents!

My heart is at peace but also sad after seeingthe suffering of the brave Palestinian people

Wow! This is so powerful, so true, so lovely. My heart is good after reading this.

This is exactly what I needed to read today...or, rather, every day.
We have become so task-oriented that the heartbeat of life can be lost.

Thank you for clinging on to humanity and that which makes it beautiful...we are created for relationships--deep relationships. Let's revolutionize the typical "hi-how-are-you?" culture we have become.

My heart soaked this up! I couldn't agree more. Thank you!

I have a hobby that is supposed to disconnect from the modern world when it is happening. Sadly, there, too, people are forgetting to be in the moment. No phones, no computers, no email. It is wonderful to recharge, spend time with friends around a fire, and talk. Being in that moment. And it is telling that if one chooses to slow down, step out of the race, others think there is something wrong with you.

A few years ago, I was really busy, and I had big plans for the weekend. My French friend said "you need to rest" and I said "but I have plans!" and she just repeated: "you need to REST. It was such good advice. I make it a point to actually schedule a genuine REST day every week. No plans. No parties. No appointments. Some days I rest more successfully than others, but merely making it a deliberate part of my week is progress.

That is so true...

I think about this kind of thing everyday. And during many moments in the day. These words are so encouraging, as I feel that I look for ways that my heart might unfold more or newly to different people, including myself. I cherish when I can be bored, not just exhausted. All this with the intent to be better at listening. So glad this writing makes room for my heart and for my heart to make room for touch.

Beautiful and true thoughts !!

I choose to be busy - I give the time in which I should be checking in on my own heart to others. Endless volunteering, endless coffees and lunches with those seeking employment or connections, endless hours keeping my home organized for my family of six, endless hours organizing communities without a voice. I reject the false business of complicated crafting, of canning tomatoes, of shuttling children to endless activities. A fully introspective life - one that prioritizes self above all else - is a privilege, and a waste of the wealth and power in our Western society.

You brought tears in my eyes, and as if you are reciting:
بشنو از نی چون حکایت می کند
وز جداییها شکایت می کند
And I could feel that your eyes also came with tears while writing this meaningful article and it is like ذکر
We need this kind of remembering all the time. Bless you!
The best part that I like is when you said: "I am always a prisoner of hope" And your name is "OMID"! خداوند نگهدار شما باشد

I found it ironic that I am reading this, not just online, but on an iPad. But, to the question at hand: How is my heart? My heart feels trampled.

Grace and presence. great reminder.

If you are inspired by this article, listen to Claudia Schmidt's CD: New Whirled Order. My favorite song is called "Nothing"-- and it's about slowing down and refusing to be part of all of the busy-ness... even just for a day.

It is amazing how so many seem to suffer from this over activity. Were lonely in a world that is more connected than ever. We are always running late on time, though we have reached some of the greatest levels of convenience in recorded history. When did man just start surviving life, forgetting the most important thing of all... to actually live it? My heart is heavy, but hopeful, at least they are others who see this same insanity, and are fighting against it, in whatever way they can. Liberate yourselves from the rut, free your souls!

My heart is ticking and i am breahing

As I study Oriental Medicine and treat patients, it is clear that many of us are not at all in touch with not only our hearts, but our bodies and our lives as a whole. This has motivated me to begin to take time for reflection, for stillness, for just being in my own skin, my own life, my own moments, in the the hope that doing so improves my own life, and helps me to better encourage my patients to do the same. Thank you for this piece, it's lovely!

I prioritize, but one my mental list I include items like "listen" or "lie in bed" or "stare awhile at my fish" or "read a short story" or "take a bunch of deep breaths". (I could go on....). If I prioritize and don't let others control my attention beyond where I choose to let them, then I can speed up or slow down at the pace I choose. Even stop sometimes and just stand totally still. If I decide to be (temporarily) busy, I know what my goal is. Once achieved, I enjoy the leisure until I decide on new goals. No rush. The world will still be turning when I return for new challenges.

Such an honest, powerful, beautiful piece of writing. Thank you for sharing.

Today,... I am hopeful.

That is why everyone has a therapist as families do not have the time to sit and bond

I love this. Thank you. I asked a friend the other day "Morgan, how is your heart doing?" He responded, thank you Kate, you're so nice. No one ever asks me how my heart is. And that made my own heart a little sad. And grateful that I hold this slowness as a true value, central to my core.

When you retire you begin to observe how "very busy" your friends are, ESP those who are your age but still working. And you sometimes wonder if they ever stop and think about how much their busy-ness interferes with any real time for reflection and soul searching.
It's like when you pray and only ask for blessings, instead of quietly sitting in meditation and wait for God to speak to you.

If you work with horses on a daily basis you learn quickly: "If you have only 10 minutes, it will take all day. If you have all day, it will take 10 minutes." Slow down and listen to the horse.

great points. You should have cut the message in I can get back to my e mail. Ha. Really it was too long.

Thank you for saying what needs to be said. We don't use time-saving technologies to actually save us time, we use them to create time to do more work, and to allow us to be even busier. We use social media in place of real socializing and in place of real community. If we opt out, then we are completely disconnected. It seems that people are afraid of face-to-face connection, or think that it isn't a good use of their time. My heart is feeling disappointed about this.

Thank you very much for this article, I have been thinking about it after fifteen years of hard work and I absolutly agree of what it is written here. It has been written the best way I could imagine to explain it. I hope that everybody will read it!!

quietly looking out my windows, reaching to feel my dogs and kittys.. sensing the wind..watching its effect as the treetops swirl, holding the trunks from a ladder to feel the movement, watching leaves travel in water, finding fabulous rocks in the woods... examining them and seeing veins and imaging periods of time in production, stopping to guard the salamanders as the hikers pass by, seeing our faces as we each do the same in our own particular ways...sharing love and feeling pain and sorrow and music and melencholy... raindrops on branches, endless examples... allowed to enter my mind...


I am not content, anymore. My name means content and for the longest time I was. However, I no longer feel that feeling of contentment.

Thank you for a wonderful commentary. When raising our children I wanted them to experience boredom, so they could then do whatever they could figure out to do: reflect, read a book, create a new experience. Now, as a parent of older children, I have time again for myself, and I had forgotten to allow boredom in my life, so I could grow again.

So true but I have found that since I have come to terms with what the writer is saying, I now create lighter schedules. I guess part of what has kept me is the fact that I only accept things that I enjoy doing so that helps.
My heart otherwise is sometimes happy and sometimes very sad.

My heart is full. I value connecting with people and yet too many times I'll walk into a mall or restaurant & see people on their phones, heads down. Try telling them 'Good day' and they give you a blank stare. I too miss growing up in a world where I learned about responsibility starting at home. You're bored? Pick up a broom and help. Work before play was our motto and my parents led by example. I came from a big family where we it was hard to get a word in but we connected. Today's generation is strongly influenced by what's on the internet and that is scary! Not only do I ask my children and grandchildren how their day is but I share mines. And I talk about generations before, enlightening them on my parents & grandparents & the joys & sorrows of my childhood. More heart-to-heart talks...less internet or texting.

BRILLIANT! Thank you.

Yes, yes, yes to every word. I am going mad with tasks, and I know how sick it makes my soul, and yet I do it because if I finish these crazy years of being a single mom and get my degree, there will be time for rest. And reflection. But by then my child will be 11. And I know I've missed many moments of her fleeting childhood chasing the goal of being able to provide a better life for her. But she'll never be little again. She's 10 now and I have to kiss and squeeze and be with her in between work and studying for exams or writing papers. It's insanity. So if someone were to ask me, "How is your heart?" Right now the truth is that I don't even know because I'm simply operating from one task to the next. So that's why I answer with "I'm super busy." Because reflection is a luxury I won't have until summer break next year. And that's not ok. It can't be.
Thank you for giving me this one moment to reflect.

The state of my heart is curious and thankful, also, I do not share this perspective. For those of you who've read this article and also do not agree, m words welcome you.

I think you're conflating being busy with being distracted.I'd recommend some kind of contemplative meditation practice.

We once distinguished "Being a Human Being", from "Being a Human Doing"...I'm trying to recover from being a human Doing.... Is this endemic to "Individualistic Culture"?

How do you escape? How do you say now to responsibility, accountability, transparency, goal setting and achievement; how about measurable outcomes? Let's face it...we need to adjust.

The e-mail trap is not new - when, in the 80's it first snuck into my life, I knew immediately that I had a now and future problem. I prioritise: 'must answer/unavoidable/professional curtesy, friend.' those who do not respect a request for a shared schedule for mail go last on the list. Time out is absolutely necessary, not just because of e mails. Mindfulness practices, so prevalent in so many eastern cultures have totally disappeared from our maps.Our working lives are not organised so as to provide for this. It's time.

Thank you. I am thankful I was not too busy to read this! I will share your ideas and thoughts with my yoga students this weekend!

Brilliant & Beautiful. A good reminder for us all. I am sending this out to family members. Thank you!

Strange, I was just talking to my advisor about being too busy today. I too, can relate so much to this. And I ask myself this every time I am overwhelmed, but that's the thing. I keep asking myself why I don't just have some time for myself, which means that I never set aside any time for myself. I am 18 and a first-year in college. Super involved, in and outside of school, I would say, and others would say as well. For me, when opportunities come up, I feel like I have to take it, otherwise there would be no other chance. So when I take these opportunities, I'm missing a class, or my required volunteering time, and it makes me feel so guilty. But the things that I am doing other than going to class or volunteering, aren't just random fun things, you know? They're things that will benefit my in the future. I feel like, I'm just still so young, but I already have so much to do, and I wonder what my life will be like in the future. I know that I need to take some time off for myself.

Thank you. Spot on !Marcello Mastriani agrees with you in the movie, Macaroni,when he leans back with his face in the sun and says to harried Jack Lemon, "Ahh ! Isn't it wonderful Robert to waste time."
Nothing like a daily AM meditation practice , sitting in silence opening the heart
to preface the day. You still get too busy but what a great counterbalance.

there were years when I had to fill my calendar with activities. I didn't know how to just 'be' and felt anxious if Ihad too much free time. I finally overcame this busy syndrome and feel just fine if I just stay home and read.

There's so much to say about this post but I think the best thing is simply to say 'thank you'. Powerful words. Beautifully written. Timely Reminder.

Thank you for your thoughtful writing and insight. I'm an American citizen and have lived in Europe for 10+ years. To be "busy" is something that most Europeans do not strive towards and I'm grateful to be surrounded by that mentality. Each year when I'm back in the States to visit, I am overwhelmed by this "busy" behavior. Who can model and help show Americans that this tendency does not have to be the norm? It simply is not healthy.

We were wondering if the girl in the picture was running to something or away from something?

Trent Gilliss's picture

I don't know Teresa. That's the beauty of the photo; it allows each user to add meaning to Omid's column through this window. What I do know is that it's a child chasing around a landmark in Copenhagen. I really liked the sense of a spiral and the conveyance of movement — and yet there's something calming.

My Aunt Rosemary and my mother were sisters and best friends. I loved listening to them talk; crackers, cheddar cheese and a beer in hand, they really shared their daily struggles with each other through stories filled with laughter, truth and pain. I loved them both and miss them both and neither one was ever too busy for the other one or any of the rest of us, though my aunt ran a hardware store and I was one of seven in a house of ten.

This is excellent analysis of a symptom of our time. From here we must ask for the causes. Therein we will see the workings of capitalism. The system thrives on keeping its human resource - note the term - busy. No serious change is likely - baring some individual exceptions- without rethinking the economics structures.

I'm in my first year of a university scholarship course- working full time 5 days a week while studying 2 nights a week. I'm also in a relationship and I try to make time to catch up with friends and my partner.

Trying to balance a social life with full time work and doing my best in uni has become really heavy for both my mind and my heart. Thanks for posting this amazing and relatable reflection! We all need to be reminded to live a little more rather than doing a little more. I hope anyone reading this is doing well- how's your heart today?

Don't have time to write much about this.