I’m a couple weeks late to the ‘New Year, New You’ talk and hype.  I have done this purposely.  You have gotten it and are getting it from every media source.  The majority of the messages these past few weeks and every time this year is that ‘YOU SHOULD DO SOMETHING to better your life.’  This year, I want you to focus on NOT DOING.

In my 5 pillars, I discuss that most people are running from bears on a daily basis.  The ‘bears’ are stressors physically, chemically, and emotionally.  These stressors are things categorized as Deficient and/or Toxic to sustain health.

One of the biggest Toxicities we have in life is being busy.  If you ask my staff, I hate the word busy.  I cringe when people say, ‘I know you’re busy….”  Busy means to be ‘foolishly active.’  My 1 and 3 year old are busy and that’s ok.  Their role right now is to experience life and the world around them for the first time.  They have no responsibilities to provide for themselves or our family.

breaking busy

Busyness has become a weird standard of measure of our attempt to keep up with the Joneses.  It’s a currency gaining more prestige than the latest iPhone, car, or NFL games attended.   The more I meet with people, hear their story, examine them, analyze lab work, and schedule them, busyness might be the #1 bear attack that causes the 5 pillars, which led them to their condition they are seeking help.  We try to cram more things into the same amount of time each day, often looking back at the day wondering what we actually got accomplished.

The solution?  We feel we didn’t accomplish that much so it means we have to do MORE.  Since we can’t add time to our day, we have to add speed.  The top reason for speed is to obtain things you don’t really need to impress people you don’t really like.

In his book, ‘Addicted to Busy‘ by Brady Boyd, he says, “Ultimately, every problem I see in every person I know is a problem of moving too fast for too long in too many aspects of life.”

You can only be on the gas pedal for so long before you either run out of gas or you crash into something.   Running out of gas looks like forced rest.  We know we should all rest but you better find rest before rest finds you.  I shared a quote on Facebook recently that went something like this:

“If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath – our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us.” – Wayne Muller.

I saw this with my own family.  My brother died at age 37 and my dad at 68 was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Both worked their tails off to get to retirement to rest.  Unfortunately for a lot of people, rest found them first.

Crashing into something looks like distractions.  You see this all the time in the media with top producers in every industry from sports, entertainment, politics, and religion.  These people are on mission to change the world when they hit the guardrail of life that looks like extramarital affairs, drug overdoses, suicide, and many facets of addictions.  They don’t know how to personally slow the speed and allow something else to do it for them.

The hard part for people is to break busy.  But unless you do it, busy will break you.

I can only speak for me personally.  Here are a few things that help me break busy and find rest in the hecticness of life.

1. Be yourself.  This can take time.  The more I went to seminars and conferences on success, the more I wanted to be like the guys on stage.  I got to a point where I kept failing at trying to be those people so I stopped going to those types of seminars.  Honestly, it was the best decision I made.  Since I didn’t have that constant input of ‘I’m not living up to that guy’s successes,’ then I had to find or just recognize my own success.

A book that was tremendously helpful was ‘How the World Sees You,’ by Sally Hogshead.  She says, “the greatest value you can add is to become more of you.”  It’s easier to find rest when the only person you have to compare yourself to is yourself.  I’m quick to blame myself for most anything.  I would blame myself for not being that other guy.  Guess what?  I’m NOT that other guy.  I’m me.  Nobody can body can be that other guy more than he can and nobody can be me more than me.

Instead of making a list of  ‘to do’ items, make a list of ‘to be’ items.  Work at being before working at doing and having.

2. Ditch the Smart Phones.  People are so attached due to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  What’s ironic is that if you go to any playground, I can guarantee you that 70% of the parents there have their eyes glued to their screens.  What they are actually missing out on is their kid.  I actually upgraded a year ago to a slider keyboard.  I still miss my Motorola Razor flip phone.

3. Eat dinner together.  Just google ‘stats of eating meals together’ and have fun reading.  We never made this a ritual for those reasons but it’s nice to know our dinners are not only feeding our kids nutritionally but also relationally, emotionally, and sometimes comically.  When I say dinner together, it’s actually at a dining room table, TV off, and no phones.  We do put music on but it’s not a distraction to us.

This is a short list but don’t just throw rest into sleeping more or vegging out.  Find what recharges you.  As weird as it may sound, cleaning a pool is one of the most relaxing things I can think of.  I love being around the calm water, moving slowly, and not having a deadline.

One last thought to consider.  Boyd says, “Slaves don’t rest.  Slaves aren’t allowed to rest.  Slaves, by definition, have no freedom to rest and therefore rest is a condition of liberty.  Breaking busy is a condition of your personal freedom.  Be free.


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  1. Love the Mueller quote about our bodies using sickness to signal that we need a Sabbath. Many of us would benefit from a Sabbath measured in Methuselah time.

    Training ourselves to rest even just a bit (let alone a lot) can be really challenging. So I suggest adopting a “small habits” mindset. Make your initial rest goal so astonishingly small that you’d feel like a fool to not do it. Once that astonishingly small goal is a habit, then notch up the goal to your next astonishingly small rung.

    Today my astonishingly small goal for rest is to sit quietly for 2 minutes after retrieving the mail from my mail box. I will set my mail down and not look at it. I will put a soft koosh ball in my hands to play with for those 2 minutes. And then I will deal with the postal mail.

    I will not guess at how long 2 minutes is. I will set the timer on my cell phone until I become accustomed to the actual duration of 2 minutes.