Do you feel as though sometimes your life is running on turbo speed and you find it hard to keep up? Do you find that sometimes you’re just working crazy hard with a million and one things to do?
This is me at the moment! For the past few months I’ve been waking up every morning, opening my eyes to see the day and I’M ALREADY LATE! I’m thinking “Crikey! So many things to do! Let’s go do it!” while I spring from my bed and run straight to the kitchen and mix together my morning protein shake. Then I realize my housemate is there next to me and that I’m standing there, drinking my protein shake, completely naked (just kidding about the last part!).
But you know what? I LOVE THIS FEELING! It gets me fired up! It gets me super-charged! My mind is switched-on! And the best thing about it? I’m not alone. Research shows that the busier people are, the HAPPIER they are. Now you’re thinking, “Hey Brendo, no way that can be the case! When I’m busy I just feel overwhelmed, tired and exhausted!”, and I’d reply with “Definitely! But what are you busy doing?”
I decided to write this post as this is exactly what I’m experiencing at the moment. My typical day at the moment is ‘working’ 10 hours per day at my ‘day job’, coming home and ‘working’ for another 3 hours or so on The Start of Happiness, ‘working’ on running a social group in Australia, fitting in a run or a gym session to ensure I remain fit and healthy and also keeping a social life, let alone trying to keep up with current events that are happening in the world. Why am I loving all of this and how can it make me happy to be doing all of this? Let’s look at some psychological research.
Columbia University and Yale psychologist’s produced a study looking into the effects of high-volume extracurricular activity on children and adolescents. The study observed over 2000 5- to 18- year olds and looked at who was involved in extracurricular activities each week. Popular belief would say that the children if over-scheduled, over-stressed and over-busy would lead to higher anxiety, potential drug use and ultimately unhappiness. On concluding the results, the researchers concluded that “we found nothing negative at all” and that ‘busy can be good’. On the whole, the more time that these children spent in organized activities, the better their grades, the higher their self-esteem and the richer their relationships with parents. The researchers also noted that those spending 20 or more hours per week involved in extracurricular activities did not suffer in other areas as a result, but benefited in many areas.
Why is being busy a good thing and how can it make me happy?
There are anumber of benefits of being busy.
1) Feeling of Self-Accomplishment
Being busy gives a feeling of self-accomplishment. It gives a sense of adrenaline and a feeling of purpose. When you’re busy, your mind is switched-on and you are constantly thinking, making your brain work that little bit harder than it normally does. Think of a time when you had an absolutely super-packed weekend where you were constantly busy doing a number of different activities. How did you feel when you rocked up at work on a Monday morning and your colleague next to you asked “How was your weekend?” As you looked back over the weekend you just had, I’m sure you would have had a pretty good feeling about what you achieved! If not, then you were doing the wrong things!
2) Learning and Development
Being busy means you are learning and developing. The fact that your mind is switched on and you’re doing different things means you are developing yourself as a person. If you’re busy doing a number of different activities, such as learning a new skill, building a business, or even socializing, you are continually stretching yourself, pushing your boundaries, learning more about yourself, your skills and abilities and what you can achieve. Just the fact of being busy helps you learn how to prioritise, to organize and to find more efficient and effective ways of doing things. You might be saying “Yes, I’m really busy, but the difference for me is that I am doing the same thing every day so how can I be developing?” Whether you know it or not, you’re constantly developing pathways in your brain that look into how can you do it faster, more effectively, more efficiently, or differently. This is a good thing and can help you fine-tune your skills and become an expert in what it is you’re doing. Alternatively, you can jump out of your comfort zone and try something new!
Being busy can lead to a feeling of confidence. The fact that you are accomplishing a lot in your life and continually learning and developing in the process can lead to a higher level of confidence. You may have experienced more areas of life which can help you to relate to other people on a more personal level as you have an experience similar to what they have done.
4) No Time for Negativity
Being busy simply means you don’t have the time to have negative thoughts. You simply are just getting on with doing what you want to do and having a good time doing it!
And the best part about being busy? People call you Superman.
But Brendo, Seriously, I’m Busy but I’m Not Happy
Ahh, see now this is the KEY difference between being busy and stressed, and being busy and happy. What are you doing with your time when you are busy? Are you spending your time and energy in areas that interest you and that MAKE YOU HAPPY?
Let me start with where most people spend the majority of their time (apart from the bedroom where most people sleep.. amongst other things). Let’s look at ‘work’.
Did you know that 80% of the population are not happy with their work?
Many people look at this statistic and are not-surprised, but saddened by the fact. I look at this statistic and say “THAT’S BLODDY FANTASTIC!”. This means that there are 20% of people on this planet that are absolutely loving their life, springing out of bed in the morning and racing to the kitchen to drink their protein shake, naked. The other 80% is OPPORTUNITY.
If you’re one of the 80%, then you will need to ask yourself the question of why are you spending your time and energy in a place that makes you busy but not happy? This can be a hard thing as obviously people are tied down with the security of income and the need to support their families. If you have the opportunity to quickly and easily change your day-job then go for it! However most people do not have that luxury.
My suggestion is to think about how can you change, modify or tweak what it is that you are doing to MAKE IT more fun, creative or interesting. You are still you at work, so bring you to the table and have some fun with it.
I just loved that quote and I want to coin it, so I’ll repeat it again and make it an official quote:
“You are still you at work, so bring you to the table and have some fun with it.” – Brendan Baker
Taking it further, how are you spending your ‘free time’? Are you busy at the moment? Do you come home at night and just lounge in front of the television? My suggestion, get busy doing what you love! Are you the creative type? Join an Arts club! Are you an active type? Join a sports team! Are you an intellectual type? Join a local group that talks about stimulating topics! Busy is good. But it’s about being busy doing what you love.
Finding the Balance
Although being busy doing what you love is a great thing, taking time out is still important to reinvigorate and rejuvenate. And when I say time out, it is time out from doing the ONE thing over and over again.
To reinvigorate and rejuvenate, you will need to spend some time in other areas outside of your ‘core’ focus that relaxes you. The good thing is here, that most people love getting busy relaxing! The question I ask to you though, is what ‘activity’ can you do that relaxes you and restores your energy?
Rather than coming home each night and plonking yourself on the couch just to watch some soap operas on TV, can you cook up an awesome meal in the kitchen and use that time to relax you? For example, as I mentioned before, I’m running on turbo-power at the moment, but I use my posts on The Start of Happiness as a way of relaxing me and sharing my thoughts with you. Similarly, I love doing exercise to help relax me, and the good thing here is that the research continues to show the ongoing benefits of exercise in helping us to relax. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2011/February/exercising-to-relax .
How do you relax and what can you do to get busy relaxing?
I’ve loved writing this post, it’s been really fun. What I encourage you to do is find what works for you. Your life is an experiment. You get to create your own World. What are you busy doing? If you’re busy and feeling overwhelmed and stressed, then potentially the activities you are doing that are making you busy are not the things that you really want to be doing.
What changes can you make to ensure that you are getting busy being happy? A key thing to remember, is to not forget about one of life’s most important tricks for keeping us energized, motivated and happy… sleep!
What’s your experience with being busy? How do you relax yourself? Are there any tweaks or changes to your life that you can implement to help you get busy being happy? Feel free to share your comments below!
P.S. I still have the Life and Happiness Survey open for responses... so far the responses have been fantastic and it's providing clarity around what you guys really want to support your life. I will share the responses with you shortly! If you havn't already taken part, please feel free to do so here.