Activity, Status and Addiction

Being active is important; it’s how we make a difference in the world.

Nowadays we tend to all be busy, overburdened and perhaps stressed. In fact, stress for many of us has become a part of our self-image. If we are busy and stressed then we are important; we are getting somewhere.  Conversely, if we are not busy and stressed, then we are not trying hard enough. We feel less important.

So we have to keep busy and keep telling ourselves that we are getting somewhere. We scurry up the career/life ladder often not really knowing why, nor what is waiting for us at the end but we do it any way. Perhaps we feel that if we relax then everything will come crashing down. What happens if you get to the top of the ladder and find that it was against the wrong wall?

Like anything else, activity can be double-edged weapon. When activity becomes compulsive busy-ness then it becomes harmful. I call it the “lalalala” school of stress /anxiety management because it is about as effective as putting your fingers in your ears and saying out loud “lalalala”.

So long as we are busily occupied with tasks, important or not, we avoid the “too difficult” bits of life. We keep a safe and comfortable distance from the issues that need our attention but  are sometimes uncomfortable to look at. Have we chosen the right career? Are we in the right relationship? Are we present enough with our children? Is our life purposeful?

When we are not distracted,   then we start to feel uncomfortable. There is a sense of rising anxiety about what might happen if we were simply do nothing and just be with ourselves.

However, if we pause, if we turn towards instead of avoiding, just observe with equanimity then we find that we might be pleasantly surprised.  Although we might at first feel uncomfortable, we discover that what we fear is in reality fear itself. The feelings that we have so long avoided are not such a big deal. We discover clearer vision. Most importantly, we discover that we can get things done without the need to be compulsively busy.

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