Is busyness the new status symbol? Tim Kreider’s New York Times article from July 1, 2012 titled “The ‘Busy’ Trap,” explores how busyness can affect how we relate to each other. A friend asks, “How are you doing?” and the response for many is, “Crazy busy.” The author says it is a “boast disguised as a complaint”—and a new status symbol of sorts – that people feel ”anxious or guilty if they are not either working or doing something to promote their work.”

Time has always been the most valuable of commodities — “A waste of time is the most extravagant of all expenses” or “Time well spent” or “An inch of gold cannot buy an inch of time.” These sayings capture what Kreider highlights in his article: “I have always understood that the best way to spend my limited time on earth is to spend it with the people I love.” It’s the long walks with a friend, or a beer and a belly laugh with a friend that will mean the most at the end of his life…not the feeling that he wished he had worked harder.

Are people using the excuse of “being busy” as an excuse to not relate to each other or as a distraction from one’s internal world, feelings, and dreams? Kreider notes that “The space and quiet of idleness provides the necessary condition for standing back from one’s life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections, and waiting for the wild summer lightening strikes of inspiration—it is paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” It is in our “down time” that we can be silly, creative and spontaneous. It was a dream — after all — that gave Mary Shelley the idea for Frankenstein. We need the space to dream, discover and create.

What price do we pay for “The Busy Trap?” How does being on a cell phone, iPad or the computer affect our connections to our significant others? Is time the most precious commodity of all? And if so how does feeling like we do not have enough time empty the bank account in our relationships? It’s a fascinating paradox that perhaps slowing down will somehow, ironically, make us richer.

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg

Gail Grace, LCSW

Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment.