A thoughtful colleague asked me this today: What makes us so over-busy? How did we get this way?
As with any complex issue, there’s no one answer. I asked her to share her thoughts on this. She came up with some great insights. Maybe, she speculated, it’s an ego thing. We feel important, needed and respected when we’re so busy we can’t find a spare minute to just take a deep breath. Or, maybe it’s our our identities, our sense of who we are. We feel pride in being the one everyone turns to for decisions and actions. And maybe, she added, it’s that incessant drive to keep moving up and forward, striving for more responsibility, more visibility, more achievements.
Where, I asked her, does all that come from? Is it part of our genetic makeup? Is it internalized messages from a social system and economy that values us as human doings, and not as human beings?
What if we’re hooked on over-busyness like we can get hooked on alcohol or drugs? Could busyness, at least sometimes, become an addiction? A way to numb ourselves and protect us from what we don’t want to face? Johann Hari offers a new take on what causes addictions. He suggests we are trying to survive in culture that cuts us off from connection, and that we need to recover together from “…the sickness of isolation.”
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.
I don’t know if crazy-busyness is an addiction. But it’s worth thinking about. I don’t know if lack of connection is the sole cause of overwhelming busy-ness. But it’s worth doing something about. We are, as Hari reminds us, bonding animals. We can make time for connections. We need them.