Ban “busy”

I was reading an article in Relevant Magazine the other day about how our default response to the question, “How are you?” has changed. For a long time, the accepted default answer, the one we gave without any thought, was “good” or “fine.” But now, in a culture of constant motion, change, and achievement, that answer has become “busy.”

This wasn’t the first article I’d read that pointed this out, and it probably won’t be the last. But the theme of this semester has been rebalancing my life, so it got me thinking. I’m super guilty of this. Not only am I in the generation that has embraced this whole-heartedly, but I also go to a university that is steeped in this.

We’re not just busy; we’re proud of how busy we are. We brag about it. We compete. We want to know who got the least sleep or is doing the most things.

In addition to the obvious work-life balance issues at play here, it’s also a non-answer to a question.

A personal pet peeve of mine (which I’m aware is very silly) is when people say “How are you?” when they mean “Hey!” Like when you see someone in passing and they throw out a “How are you?” and keep walking. I always start to answer before I realize they can no longer hear me.

But it’s like we do this all the time, because we’re not really answering the question. If you ask me how I am and I just say that I’m busy, that’s a cop-out. If we see each other and that’s my response, smack me.

We’re all busy. It’s a given. There’s school and work and friends and family and relationships and homework and money and everything else. But maybe we should take a step back and try to appreciate the space we can make in our lives and  not to measure our worth by the time we spend running around in circles.

I want to challenge you: for the next week, whenever someone asks you how you are, try to say something other than “busy.” And take a serious look at the things you’ve chosen to include in your life. If you’re busy, maybe it’s time to cut something less important out. Or maybe, when you take it all into consideration, you’re not as busy as you thought you were.


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