NYC Therapist Talks: Busy Being
Before I was a therapist, I once held a job with an electronic checklist provided to each of us at the beginning of the day. Our job was to complete as many tasks as we could on the checklist each day, and our job performance was based mostly on this process. The more we could finish, the better or more favorable our job performance became. For some of my coworkers this set-up was a dream. I was amazed at how they could seemingly multi-task to no end and plow through their checklist each day. I, on the other hand, could never really accomplish quite as much and my value to the company and opportunity for advancement seemed to diminish with each passing day.
It wasn’t until years and several jobs later I began to understand why I was not well suited to the position. You see I had an impossible time moving on from one task to the next without finding some sort of meaning or feeling of completion on each task that required me to reach out to various individuals in one way or another. My problem seemed to be getting caught up in connecting with someone on the phone who needed some sort of assistance. My need to advocate for the individual or make a suggestion inevitably got in the way of that pesky checklist getting finished.
These days, it seems efficiency and time management continue to dominate the workplace in terms of successful job performance and career advancement. In essence, we reward those who take on more work in less time, and this nearly becomes a badge of honor worn by those who can keep up with this high speed, high demand lifestyle.
Tim Kreider recently wrote an excellent opinion piece in the NY Times about this concept of being busy: (Article here). Kreider asserts that we have created these “crazy busy” lives for ourselves and our children at the expense of living more satisfying lives with joy, pleasure, and peace of mind. Oh sure we are getting lots accomplished these days. We feel rather proud of our level of productivity, but a lot of us are living out our days with anger, resentment, anxiety, emptiness, sadness, and frustration. How can we slow down? How can we change this cycle of busyness and noise in our lives to make room for more fulfilling relationships and experiences?
As a therapist, one interesting concept I have begun to incorporate into my own life is the idea of slow living. You may have heard of the slow food movement that originated in Europe and is part of the larger idea of slowing down our lives in general. Authors Beth Meredith and Eric Storm define slow living as this: structuring your life around meaning and fulfillment. Similar to ‘voluntary simplicity’ and ‘downshifting’, it emphasizes a less-is-more approach, focusing on the quality of your life. … Slow Living addresses the desire to lead a more balanced life and to pursue a more holistic sense of well-being in the fullest sense of the word?”
Easier said than done, yes? Slow living is certainly not a quick fix or band-aid solution to our psychological distress. It takes a great deal of mindfulness and self-awareness to consider the areas of our lives we want to change, and then to move forward with actually making those changes. Finding a good therapist is one way to begin exploring ways to slow down and make better decisions that affect our quality of life. Are you ready to slow down your own life and rediscover a more simplistic, but satisfying life?