The Bane of Busyness

Aimee Bloom

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‘So how are you?’
‘I’ve been really busy.’
‘Oh, I know what you mean – me too.’

Being busy has become a form of social currency, and the all-too-common social exchange above is the legal tender with which we buy and trade status. Subconsciously, we tell people: if I am busy, then I am important. If my calendar is full, then I must be in high demand.

However, being busy doesn’t necessarily equate to living a rich and fulfilling life. There can be loneliness amidst a full calendar, a lack of purpose in hectic days and an absence of genuine connection in rushed, incidental conversations.

So what could be an antidote to this high-paced, in-demand lifestyle? How can we slow the pace of life without losing our sense of meaning?

In one word – savouring.

Hefferon and Boniwell (2011) define savouring as ‘the capacity to attend to, appreciate and enhance the positive experiences in one’s life.’ However, if we’re too busy being ‘busy’, the opportunity might pass us by altogether. In his TED talk, Brother David Steindl-Rast notes that we often miss opportunities to be grateful because we don’t press pause (2013).

By slowing down and enjoying positive moments, no matter how small, we can develop a sense of meaning through our growing sense of gratitude for the good things in life. As Brené Brown says, ‘I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude’ (2011).

So, can we lead a meaningful and satisfying life without filling every moment with an event or a meeting? Research indicates that we can. People who consistently savour tend to be less depressed, more optimistic and have greater life satisfaction (Bryant, 2003; Wood, Heimpel & Michela, 2003).

Among other strategies, researchers Bryant and Veroff (2007) recommend making savouring a daily practice and being open to new experiences that could be savoured. So here are some top research-based tips for pressing pause and savouring life.

Top Tips for Savouring:

1. Engage in some mindful eating. Whether this means eating outside rather than at your desk, chewing the number of times your mother told you to, or taking note of flavours and textures as though you’re a judge on MasterChef – take time to notice and enjoy the food you’re eating.

2. Set yourself a challenge to take a daily photo of something that gives you joy or inspiration and upload it to social media to share with others. It doesn’t have to be something picture-perfect – it could be as simple as sunlight pouring through a window. Charlie Scudamore, GGS’s Vice Principal enjoys using the Gratitude 365 app, which is a science-based app that can help you to create a digital gratitude journal.

3. Celebrate. Everything. A timely parking spot, less traffic than usual, a colleague’s good news or even the opportunity to eat free cake in the lunchroom (mindfully, of course). Celebrations don’t have to be classified as annual events. Find the good in every day and take the time to relish it.

4. Recall a past event that brought you great joy. Find a favourite photo in your phone's camera roll, or close your eyes and re-live an uplifting time of encouragement. Better yet, get out a photo album with a friend or loved one and savour a precious, shared moment together.

We’re all busy. But we shouldn’t look to this as a measure of meaning and purpose in our lives. Sometimes the greatest meaning can be found in the smallest of details. So maybe we need to use some of our time to mindfully enjoy the moment we are actually in right now. Maybe it’s time we all actually stopped to smell those roses.

References

Bryant, F.B. (2003). Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI): A scale for measuring beliefs about savouring. Journal of Mental Health, 12, 175-196.

Bryant, F.B. & Veroff, J. (2007). Savouring: A New Model of Positive Experience. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Hefferon, K., & Boniwell, I. (2011). Positive Psychology: Theory, Research and Applications. London McGraw-Hill.

Steindl-Rast, David. (2013). Want to be happy? Be grateful. TED Global. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful?language=en 

Rubin, G. (2011). I Don't Have to Chase Extraordinary Moments to Find Happiness – It's Right in Front of Me. Forbes Media. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/gretchenrubin/2011/07/15/i-dont-have-to-chase-extraordinary-moments-to-find-hapiness-its-right-in-front-of-me/#21750d394351 

Wood, J.V., Heimpel, S.A. & Michela, J.L. (2003). Savoring versus dampening: Self-esteem differences in regulating positive affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 566-580.

Aimee Bloom

Aimee Bloom


Aimee Bloom is a curriculum writer at the Institute of Positive Education. She is responsible for helping to craft the school’s explicit Positive Education curriculum from ELC – 12. An experienced teacher and writer since 2005, Aimee has taught in both primary and secondary contexts, and has written content for a variety of government and non-government agencies. She is passionate about supporting teachers and ensuring the wellbeing of children, both in our schools and around the globe.