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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: BUSYNESS ADDICTION an illusory state of mind is continually reinforced by my social world.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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What then is this state of mind, this habit of the heart we so love? Why do we find it so difficult to resist? When I reflect on this cultur...

    What then is this state of mind, this habit of the heart we so love? Why do we find it so difficult to resist? When I reflect on this cultural and personal compulsion, I discover that there is something about the feeling of busyness that is exhilarating. There is an altered state of consciousness I experience when I swing into action and begin working through today's "to do" list. A burst of adrenalin carries me from one activity to another. How many things can I get done in the shortest amount of time? Racing against the clock becomes a game, sometimes an unhealthy competition, but nevertheless a game. While I am occupied orchestrating this internal race against time, I can feel both strong and important. My ego is firmly in control. I am clearly the centre of these activities. This particular state of mind is, of course, illusionary.

    When I am busy being busy, my field of awareness constricts and I tend not to notice my surroundings or other people. I tend to be unresponsive either to the needs of those who cross my path or to my own. I lose my contemplative attitude and so deprive myself of moments of beauty, surprise, delight, or love. When I am busy being busy, I avoid making time for leisure, for play, for relationships, for reflection. I take delight in moving fast, being caught up in the rhythm of an institution, a city, a community that runs me, that overwhelms my internal sense of self and my felt responses to internal and external events. I am actually being captivated by a "false" consciousness that is largely generated by the culture outside of me. I go on automatic while believing I am still in charge. When I am busy, I can believe myself to be incredibly important to the scheme of things. I become indispensable, necessary. My ego becomes reassured (while this state lasts) that I am productive, accomplishing something worthwhile and valuable. After all, time is money and I am spending it well. I am measuring out the least amount of time possible for each task. By being so efficient, I become free to accept several more engagements, talks, tasks. I am so good at being busy, I continually escalate the demands on my time, attention, and care.

    This illusory state of mind is continually reinforced by my social world.If I project a state of busyness, others will notice how important I am. Maybe I will appear to be so important they won't disturb me. Maybe I will appear to be so important they will seek me out for something even more important.

    Most work environments, including academic ones, reward participants not for the quality of their thought but for the sheer quantity of published text or service to the institution. In contrast with some other jobs, the work of teachers could fill every minute of every day. I could always prepare my lectures more thoroughly or spend more time reading student papers. I could always do more professional reading. I could always write one more article. I could always spend more time counseling and advising students or more time doing spiritual direction. Many professional people face similarly escalating demands as work expands from forty to upwards of sixty hours per week for many. The busier any of us is, the more valuable to the system he or she becomes.

    For those whose daily round is not a clearly defined set of professional tasks but all those activities of care and household maintenance, the habit of busyness can be just as driven. For those who engage in repetitive tasks, the cycle of life itself creates endless sets of dishes to wash, rooms that will need cleaning again soon, weeds that will never be eradicated from the garden. It is sometimes even easier to be driven by the demon of busyness while accomplishing tasks or activities that do not absorb as much mental attention as some kinds of professional work. This problem is not one that infects only one group of people.

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