We Americans just love being busy. I don't know when this happened, but I've certainly known this to be true for my entire adult life.
Busy equals good. Not busy equals bad.
Not busy means you're lazy, unmotivated and lack focus in prioritizing your life.
For many years, I thought these very thoughts about myself, until one day, I decided to retire this type of thinking and take the hectic schedule out of my life.
Having done so, I realized (in about two seconds) that to-do lists and absolutely no spontaneity in my routine were the keys to my overwrought, unsatisfied life.
These are five reasons why being busy is bad for us:
1. You likely aren't taking care of yourself
Just this week, I read most Americans are too busy to go to the doctor for preventative coverage.
How can that be? We're one of the wealthiest, most advanced nations in the world, but we don't have the time of day to make sure our ticker's ticking like it should?
There's a reason why the flight attendant tells you to put the mask on yourself before you assist others. If you are not well, you cannot help others. It's as simple as that.
By the way, don't expect your job to help you out. Your job doesn't care about you, so you must. You will learn the hard way if you don't start caring about yourself, right now.
2. Overwork makes you jaded
Now call me crazy, but I am not, and never was, keen on working myself to death. It does bad things to us, and research proves this.
Having a workforce of sleepwalking zombies is bad. We should work less and take care of ourselves more. Who is with me!?
My solution is definitely unpopular. When I had the "let's work less!" conversation with my coworkers, no one took it seriously.
They said hard work was always virtuous, or they even responded with flippant comments like, "You're gonna marry a spender! That's what!"
Ha, no, I'm not.
3. Not having time to cook is unhealthy
A wonderful food writer, Michael Pollan,wrote:
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
The issue here is that we don't eat real food, even when research showsreal food trumps all other diets by comparison.
That would mean cooking, which takes a significant amount of time, patience and skill.
Having said that, I don't see a lot of real meals in the workplace, but work stations are littered with cookies, cakes and donuts (from that one coworker who thinks it's a great idea to bring them every Thursday).
What the hell is wrong with people?
We don't eat real food, and we don't want it, either. During festivities at work, it'salwaysthe pizza and fried chicken that goes first.
So, I made something simple: an orzo pasta salad with roasted vegetables, muddled herbs and fresh lemon.
It was panned by my coworkers, even when my boss told me it was perfectly seasoned. Let's get real, America. We eat sh*t, and we need to cut it out.
4. Groupthink perpetuates the "busy is good" mentality
By groupthink, I mean peers, friends and coworkers who undoubtedly come to the same conclusions. We influence each other and how we think, whether we like it or not.
"You have plenty of time," was what my coworkers assured me when I brought up the unsustainability of the busy life. If I couldn't work 10-hour days, find the time to cook, sleep and exercise, the problem was me.
The problem is the lifestyle.
People aren't meant to be constantly stimulated by structured activities until they pass out at the end of the day.
Men, by and far, get it the worst. They are constantly expected to be providers not only for themselves, but for their women and children.
If a man shows even the slightest demonstration of struggle at the workplace, he will be branded as weak, lacking leadership or even not having what it takes to do his job compared to other, stronger men.
Men under no circumstances are allowed to show weakness of any kind.
5. Cadillac man can shove it
Remember this guy? Cadillac man was very briefly an American icon.
In his commercial for Cadillac, he sashayed around his mansion in the middle of the day and touted Americans to be "crazy-driven, hardworking believers." His home was immaculate, he high-fived his kids, but it's the middle of the day. Why isn't he working?
The American dream used to be the home with a white picket fence. And now, it seems like we want it all, and we want it badly enough to sacrifice our basic needs.
I'm going to replace those aforementioned adjectives Cadillac man used to describe us with the real ones I see on a daily basis.
Instead of crazy-driven, hardworking believers, how about exhausted, undernourished, dehydrated, constipated and spent?
Yes, I am inferring that we, the people, have arranged our lives such that we deprive ourselves basic needs such as sleeping and defecating.
Cadillac man is a farce, a fantasy that only the Mitt Romneys of the world can afford. It's not normal.
As Elle Goodman, author and journalist, puts it:
"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for — in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it."