“How are you?”

“How are you?”

How our words contribute to the perpetuation of busyness.

“I’m busy.”

“Just trying to stay busy.”

“I’m slammed.”

“How’s it going?” Instead of how are you? We assume that something has to be going on and we’d much rather talk about it then you.

“I never take all my vacation days.”

What if our answer was “I’m free all week” or “My calendars wide open?” What if we celebrated those who left early on a given day? But we don’t, do we? We assume they are lazy or not achievers or not taking ownership. That they are somehow skating by? But what if they are incredibly efficient? What if the woman who is always there when you leave, is not? What if she just can’t get her work done in a timely fashion. Or what if their priorities are different.

Our 9-to-5’s and billable hour work constructs enforce this too. We pay people for a days worth of work or we bill for every hour we can get out of them. It perpetuates the problem. Another day, another dollar.

I started thinking about this on Martin Luther King, Jr day. I had to work that day, which I was disappointed about for many reasons. At lunch, I took a walk and saw that the city was for the most part business as usual in terms of actual businesses that were open. It got me thinking about our busyness. As I continued to walk, a woman asked her friend, “Are you keeping busy?”

But maybe even more than our words, we are consumed by another dollar. It propels us to stay open on holidays and weekends. It demands extra hours and rewards no vacation.

We’ve created leaner teams which makes this more so.

We demand a cheaper more accessible Whatever in our lust for more.

This in turn creates a need for cheaper and quicker which means we all have to work harder to make and/or buy it.

We’ve created this mess.

Ultimately, it’s not our boss who’s making us work longer or the weekend. It’s you, it’s me. Have you put yourself in a position where you can’t afford to lose your job? Do you have habits and desires that create a need for more money? And on the flip side. Are you afraid to take your vacation for fear of being out of the office? Or being home?

We can’t solve this overnight, but let’s at least start by using words that celebrate rest and pause and balance.