Life On Fast Forward
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Student Life

Life On Fast Forward

Juggling between being "Happy" and being "Busy."

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Life On Fast Forward
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“I did things I did not understand for reasons I could not begin to explain just to be in motion, to be trying to do something, change something in a world I wanted desperately to make over but could not imagine for myself.”

Dorothy Allison, Trash: Stories

Being busy is often perceived as evidence of unhappiness in the world we experience today. However, in our culture, there is no getting around it. If I had a dollar for every time I received a response to the question “How are you” that was something to the effect of, “I am so busy that I honestly don’t even remember”, I would probably have enough money to pay my subscription to Spotify for the next ten years. If I had a dollar for every time I used the phrase “I’m busy” in the last year, I would no longer have to be busy because I would be able to quit my part-time jobs.

The art of being busy has consumed us.

But at some point on my journey toward my future, while I was kicking myself for having no time to relax this semester, I began to question my dissatisfaction surrounding my obsession with productivity. As someone who is studying to get a job in education, I have been told so many times that I will never have time. That the work is never done. That I will always be behind in some capacity or another.

And I don’t doubt this. I don’t disagree that the scheduling will become very difficult to manage.

However, as the end of the craziest semester of my three years in college draws to a close, I am attempting to understand my own responsiveness to the busy schedule I have immersed myself in. Haven’t I enjoyed interacting with so many different people throughout the course of the day? Haven’t I smiled at the thought of how many different places I managed to be and the tasks I was able to accomplish? It’s kind of silly, but sometimes my busy schedule makes me feel like a superhuman. And besides, I never have a free day. On purpose. Whenever I have some time for myself, I always make sure to fill up the day by running as many errands as possible. Or at least visiting people that I haven’t seen.

I like being busy and as strange as I feel admitting to that, I don’t think that it hinders my ability to be happy. My long days spent in class and long evenings at work might even contribute to my happiness.

A popular study shows that people would prefer to fill idleness with activity. After given the choice of waiting idly for fifteen minutes or going out of their way to walk for fifteen minutes, most people would prefer to fill their time with activity. The implication of this study is that people believe that it is better to be doing something than not doing anything at all. According to psychcentral.com, “If idle people remain idle, they are miserable. If idle people become busy, they will be happier, but the outcome may or may not be desirable, depending on the value of the chosen activity. Busyness can be either constructive or destructive. Ideally, idle people should devote their energy to constructive courses. […] We advocate a third kind of busyness: futile busyness, namely, busyness serving no purpose other than to prevent idleness. Such activity is more realistic than constructive busyness and less evil than destructive busyness.”

In other words, there’s a line that you shouldn’t cross. As the popular saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s handiwork,” and this rings true for the most part. If you’re ever torn between action and inaction, it’s generally better to choose to be active. Until you’re downing Rockstar energy drinks like your life depends on it, forgetting to hygiene, and cursing your housemates for telling you “good morning.” Don’t push it.

Most researchers agree that the connection between happiness and being busy is found in the meaning of the activities that the individual is participating in. If they assume that their activities are providing them with a deeper meaning in life or contributing to their well-being as a person, it is understandable as to why they would feel more satisfied with their lives than the person who sits on their couch all day is with theirs. Another researcher from psychologytoday.com states, “First-and this is the most straightforward implication-, they suggest that an important tool in our arsenal for being happy is to stay busy. So long as we have some - even if it is only a flimsy - justification for doing something, we are likely to be happier doing it than not doing it.

Second, they suggest that an important reason why most of us do what we do -build highways, invest money, teach at schools, etc. - is to stay busy. If busyness enhances happiness, then there's an important reason why people seek employment and engagement in activity beyond earning money and paying the bills: it is to maintain a positive emotional state.

As humans, we have a strange relationship with time. Somehow or other, we know we must conquer it, we must engage with it, and we must adhere to it when necessary. Eventually, there will come a time when time doesn’t require us anymore. But until then, we have to learn how to fill it. As for me, I’ve found that I’m happy being busy and thankful for this revelation considering my schedule for the next few years is probably going to be consistently kicking me in the rear. For everyone who matters to me in my life, I do apologize for any time that I have not spent with you and hopefully I will become more busy with activities that involve you. At least you will know that when I do make time for you, I care tremendously. For those like me who are led to feel as though they should be uncomfortable with how busy they are in life, relax. We might not be doing ourselves as big a disservice as we thought.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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