Sunday, 30 June 2013

I was so busy that I missed life!

Modern life ensures a lot of comfort and wealth. However, it also makes heavy demands on what is our single most precious belonging, time. The fact that life is made of time can often get ignored in the rush of life, and by the time we come to realise that time is the only commodity that we cannot buy, beg, borrow or steal, it might be too late. Being too busy in life actually runs the risk of missing it altogether.

In the modern world, there is so much to do, so much to achieve that only someone who has is an absolute failure or not well can be idle. Most of us are always busy in something or the other. Often there are so many challenges to meet that merely deciding which ones you should take up can become a matter of stress! The greatest iron, however, is that efforts to bring a semblance of balance and harmony in this madly busy life requires efforts that can sometime lead to even more stress and make the life even worse!

In such a scenario, it makes sense to pause for a minute, take stock of your life and make sure you are going where you wish to be lead into. It makes even sense to ensure that you are not caught in a directionless obsession of activities that lead nowhere.
Do we really need to be that busy?

In fact, most of the stress of our busy life can be a result of habits that have long outlived their utility. When we begin our career, we need to struggle much more. We need to make every second count. We learn not to let opportunities go by. During that period we are always looking for that one breakthrough that will let us into the path of success. In the process, we grab every possible opportunity that crosses us. In time, we become well placed and better off, but still not enough. SO we need to work more ... grow more ... and more ...and then it becomes a habit. Even when we need nothing more, we can still not let an opportunity go by. We never realise that we are doing it at enormous cost, in terms of time, which is the basic unit of life!

The cost of being too busy

Life is not made of money or investments, It consists of years, which in turn are made of hours and minutes and seconds. We can create everything else, but with our knowledge and technology, we cannot create time. Time is the essence of life - the only commodity that we cannot buy in the market, and yet, very often it is the only commodity that we are ready to spend without thinking twice. We spend life as part of our habits. We pay with our life to do what we have got into the habit of doing. We are busy not because it is good for us, but because we are in the habit of being so.

Hazards of a poorly balanced life

A life too busy is actually a life spent in confusion. Every day, we will end up spending exactly twenty four hours, irrespective of whatever we do or don't. What matters is HOW we spend them. When we are unable to balance those twenty four hours properly, they lead to stress and frustration. Such an outcome itself negates all other success. It also becomes a hazard for peace of mind and health of the body. In short, it messes up the quality of life.
How to avoid missing your life while you were too busy

If there is anything that any sane person would like to keep as the first priority, it is to ensure that she does not miss her life while trying to make arrangements for it. Career, wealth and success are important parts of life, but not the whole of it. There is more to it than what we often aim for.

Deciding one's priorities can be the first step in ensuring a proper balance in your busy lie. We all need money, but we also value certain other things far more than money. It could be family, the company of loved ones, friends or it could be experiences, hobbies, travelling, socializing or just taking a break from the monotony of daily routine. Whatever it may be, we must not let it remain an unfulfilled dream just because we are busy. This small step itself can take away a lot of our stress, and add years to our life while adding life to our years.

As the second step towards bringing greater balance to life, we should strive to avoid the 'traps of stereotyped roles'. Our social upbringing often makes us used to certain stereotyped roles in life. For example, right from our childhood, we are taught to be nice, and while no one needs to be impolite, it is very important that do not get caught in this social traps and emotional black-mailing, either as a family member, friend or social person. Even as a family member, we must get trapped into carrying Utopian ideals on ourselves. As a mother or as a son, there are limits to what one needs to do as part of one’s responsibility. One must not live with guilt when not being able to do any further, and should be able to say no when faced with exploitative expectations of people around them. Once you make yourself clear, most of those who care for you would understand and adjust, while those never bothered about you in the first place need to be given a taste of their medicine.

The same principle is also true for the working sphere. Very often, we take up more than what we should, in an attempt to develop or retain other’s goodwill. There can be no denying that such goodwill is a great asset, especially during an adversity. At the beginning of one's career, one needs it the most. But then there come a time in life that you may have to avoid the temptation of being good and nice, if the cost of doing so is far bigger than would be justifiable. Keeping others’ expectations from you down might be a better strategy than to keep fulfilling them at the cost of your life, meaning time.

Having a long term perspective of your life is another good strategy to avoid getting entrapped in a life that is so busy that it makes you miss the life itself. Try making an year long time table for yourself, and you may be surprised to see how little of your time you have been left with for your own self. Such realization itself can help you in making the best of whatever life you are blessed with, in a manner that you end up enjoying instead of continuing to invest in a future that will never be witnessed. Remember, returns on time invested come in the form of everything other than time itself.

Small things like managing a healthy daily routine can sometimes be the most important way of bringing balance back to a seemingly unmanageable life. Ideally, your daily routine should itself lead to de-stressing your mind and body, something that cannot be achieved with a very tight and inflexible scheduling. A simple uncomplicated and flexible life-style can be a great asset in this regard. Keep a substantial part of the day with your own self. A feeling of having time at your disposal can itself prevent most of the stress related with busy life and inflexible time-lines.

Lastly, there are some time tested small and simple ways to decrease pressure on one's time and life. Separating work from home and leisure is one of them. Balancing your domestic time between self and family is another simple step that can unclutter your life. Each one of us has her own priorities, and circumstances. Each one of us needs to find his own solutions. While doing so, we also need to ensure that we do not let the life go by just because we too busy in making arrangements for it!


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