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Stop being a busy body

If you ask the average Australian, they’ll tell you that work/life balance is deteriorating. And it turns out that we’re not alone. Last year a survey in the UK found the majority of Brits want to work less, and would happily take a pay cut to do so. The French, too, who were internationally applauded for introducing the 35-hour working week in the year 2000, are now, 15 years on, debating its merits because too few people are actually sticking to it.

We have a global problem: We’re too busy. And it’s showing up in our health system. Long work hours are associated with a greater risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Lack of sleep too, has been linked to everything from obesity to premature mortality. What’s more, there seems to be some kind of morbid glorification of the state of ‘busy’. If we can’t moan to our friends about how tired we are, how run down, how stressed, or how very busy, it seems we don’t have much else to say to each other, as if somewhere in all of this busy-ness we have lost the ability to truly connect with each other.

Goals, dreams and intentions can very easily become lost in ‘busy’ too. When you don’t stop to ‘think’, you can so easily get lost in the ‘doing’ and lose sight of what you set out to do, what you had intended to achieve …all those years ago when you were a child looking into the sky dreaming of being a pilot or making plans to travel the world. Valuing the fact that your time is full over the fact that your heart is full is only beneficial temporarily … it is not a sustainable kind of happiness.

And you know what else? Keeping busy is a wonderful way to thwart loneliness. Because it constantly covers up that ache inside, that emotional abyss that hurts like hell… But the truth of the matter is that whether we know five people or five hundred, whether we’re partnered up or single, whether we’re surrounded by family or living away … we each fall asleep every night from within our own minds. We are individuals. And we are alone.

As profound and important as our relationships are, and as much as they influence us throughout our lives, we are, at essence, alone. But alone does not have to mean lonely. Sometimes the loneliest places on Earth are those most filled with people.

Loneliness comes from disconnection. It is a fear-based emotion, entirely founded on the idea that being alone is not conducive for humans because we are social creatures and our pack/clan instincts mean we gravitate towards each other. And, of course, like most animals we have an innate desire to reproduce, so to keep our species alive, we seek relationships.

And the truth is, being lonely is hard. And it’s exhausting too… Because it involves chasing validation for all that we are from sources outside of ourselves, and while it’s flattering to hear someone say “good job”, “nice hair cut” or “pretty dress”, the confidence it inspires is fleeting. And if we become to rely upon it, we will never be happy unless we hear it.

When we are able to love, accept and validate our own self – fully acknowledging our journey with its struggles, mistakes, lessons, achievements and, above all the energy and intent that made it all happen, we provide genuine validation for ourselves and we stop needing (or wanting) the approval of others. We become more self-sufficient, and less lonely. Over time, loneliness diminishes completely as we build an intimate friendship with our own self. When we have the strength and ability to go within, to reflect, nurture and provide all of the emotional sustenance we need for ourselves, then we can be truly content. And then we can stop being busy. And just ‘be’.