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Realizing the difference between busyness and fullness

In the last two months, my life has changed. Drastically. The change itself, however, was not at all drastic. In fact, the change was as minute as changing one four-letter word from my vocabulary to another four letter word. It was as simple as changing the word busy to the word full.

When someone first thinks of their own busyness, one will likely associate that feeling with having a lot on one’s plates and a great deal to do. This is a feeling I felt for years. This word has always been associated with so much stress in my life. From a young age, I’ve always had a lot going on and felt “busy.” Traveling every weekend and practicing softball for hours every night became the norm, and dinners as a family became fewer and fewer.

Getting home later than a lot of my friends’ bedtimes and then having to shower, do my homework and get a few solid hours of sleep caused burnout in several areas of my life. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the root of that burnout stemmed from years of falling into the trap of busyness.

As I got older, the tasks became different, but the stress was the same. The number of times I can find the word busy in my old text messages is unsettling. “I’m sorry. I can’t hang out. I’m really busy.” “I’m too busy tonight, sorry.” It didn’t matter how I said it; the problem is that I was saying it. I was literally addicted to feeling busy. I loved to hate the feeling of crashing and burning from a caffeine overload every day. I began to crave the feeling of stress and I couldn’t explain it.

I found, in only a week of trying to substitute busyness for fullness, that busy was one of the only things that came up in small talk. In passing, the go-to question of “How are you?” became filled with responses of sighing and expressing how busy the other person was at that time. The expected answer to my question was always “good,” but I became increasingly prepared to hear “busy.”

This is the moment when I realized I needed to fully commit to fullness and rid myself of the lie of busyness.

Full is defined as lacking nothing and feeling complete. Experiencing fullness is consciously choosing to recognize that life is full of good things, not just checking off the boxes. In these last two months, I came to realize that I was enjoying all of the things I thought were keeping me “busy” on their own. I was enjoying my extracurriculars, my sports and my family responsibilities. I’ve had such a shift in mentality since coming to my senses and realizing that I would still choose to do everything I’m doing right now even if I were offered the choice to get out damage-free, regardless of how much time these things were taking up.

Fullness also stems from discerning passion from things that cause stress. I am passionate about going to sporting events. I am passionate about spending time with my family. I am passionate about being involved in my community. I am passionate about my leadership roles. Accepting that I quite frankly relish all of my activities made me realize that my motivation should be that no matter what I am doing, I always want to ensure there is passion behind it all.

I noticed this “busy” feeling when I picked up on my habit of living my life through to-do lists. I literally have to-do lists that say “make a to-do list for tomorrow.” I wake up in the morning and immediately go through my list in my head. I discovered that anxiously ruminating on my own busyness is no fuel for productivity. My biggest takeaway is this: experiencing the fullness of joy comes from realizing the difference between busy and full.

Do you think you will try to remove busy from your vocabulary? Let us know in the comments below!

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1 comment

Lupita A March 12, 2019 at 8:05 pm

I really loved this! The way you showed how you changed your perspective on how you went on with things is great. And it also opened my eyes because I always catch myself saying “I’m busy” and how I get unmotivated when I have a lot on my plate. So thank you for encouraging me to look at things differently!

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