Why I Never Answer ‘Busy’ When People Ask ‘How Are You?’
Do you know that feeling of being so busy that time flies with a blink of an eye? We’re so busy with all kinds of things — work, friends, going out, holidays, etc. But being busy is not a good thing at all.
The other day, one of my best friends, Antonio, had his birthday.
We know each other since we were 14 or 15 years old. For the past years we both lived in different places over the world (he’s in Lisbon now) so we haven’t seen each other for a few years — but he’s still like a brother to me. And we always talk to each other on our birthdays. It’s a ritual.
Out of everyone I know, Antonio has the easiest birthday to remember — he’s born on the day before my birthday.
This year, I forgot. But he didn’t.
On my birthday he sends me a message, congratulating me. I didn’t see it until a few days later. So I called him immediately after I read it and said: “I’m really sorry that I forgot about your birthday. I’m a lousy friend.”
Like a real friend, Antonio said: “Not at all. I understand that you’re busy, it’s fine.”
I told him that it’s not fine at all, and that being busy is an excuse that losers use. I say that because you can use ‘busy’ as an excuse for everything.
- You forgot your anniversary. “Yeah, but you know how busy I am, right? I’ll make it up to you.”
- You haven’t called your mother in six months. “Mom, I’m sooo busy.”
- You didn’t go to the gym. “I’m too busy to work out.”
- And the worst of all: “I’m too busy to work on the stuff that makes me happy.” That can be your music, business, model trains, or whatever.
I wasn’t too busy to give my friend a call. Come on: How on earth can you be too busy to give your friend a call? That’s nonsense.
If Jeff Bezos has the time to hit the gym and have breakfast with his wife every morning; you and I definitely can make time for EVERYTHING. Because I’m pretty sure that being the CEO of one of the fastest growing businesses in the world is a hectic job.
“Yeah, but he has assistants and all. I don’t.”
Well, we don’t employ almost six hundred thousand people. So cut the crap.
Every time you say you’re busy, you’re actually saying that you can’t prioritize your life.
Busy does not equal success.
Most people identify being busy with being successful. But unlike 95% of the people I know, I think being busy is a bad thing.
When you meet people, they often want to show you that they have busy lives. “A full calendar must mean that I’m doing something right, right?”
The truth is: If you’re busy, you don’t live at all. You just exist.
Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want, and one of my favorite thinkers, says:
“To me, ‘busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life.”
“But if I’m not busy, what the hell should I do?”
Slow down there. Take a step back. And think about which things in your life are just ‘busy work’ and not meaningful.
Seneca put it best:
“A good man will not waste himself upon mean and discreditable work or be busy merely for the sake of being busy.”
Here’s how I put that in practice.
It’s absolutely fine if you don’t have plans for the weekend. People’s favorite question on Monday is: “What did you do over the weekend?”
You don’t have to do things so you can tell others about it. If people ask me, this is what I say: “Nothing.”
Or, I say: “I wrote, went to the gym, and slept.”
And they look at me like: “That’s all?”
What? I’m not cool if I didn’t travel the world, had dinner with aboriginals, and jumped out of a jumbo jet on the way back?
Another thing: I say no most things.
Want to grab coffee? Want to go for dinner? Want to write an article for money? Want to do work for us? Want to do this, or that?
No, not now — I don’t want to be busy.
When you’re busy, time moves fast. And I want time to move S L O W.
You know that feeling? Some days seem like forever, and years later, you still remember how you felt that day. You should feel like that almost every day.
All you have to do is slow down, stop being busy, don’t forget about important things, and live a conscious life.
It’s not that difficult, right? You can start now.