We measure our self-worth by the tasks we accomplish every single day. We measure our self-worth by the stuff we’re able to purchase. We jam-pack our schedules, and every time someone asks us how we’re doing, we yell “sooo busy!” as we scurry to our next appointment or activity.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in doing and going. Because there are 1,0000,000 things that need to get done. They’re big things and small things. There’s working and cooking and washing dishes and folding laundry and feeding kids and organizing and …. the list never, ever seems to end.
But the reality is that busy often isn’t a pace that’s sustainable or enjoyable.
In her thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More, Courtney Carver writes about her personal manifesto to end busyness. Carver pens the blog Be More with Less, where she explores minimalism. Below are parts of her beautiful manifesto, which I think can inspire our own approach to our days. Because if you’re feeling super busy, rushed and depleted, it’s probably time to pause and reflect on what you really want and need—and need to change.
- “I will not say ‘yes’ when my heart says ‘no.'” When Carver considers saying ‘yes’ when her heart yearns to say ‘no,’ she feels it in her body. She might clench her teeth, squeeze her hands or feel stress. For many years, she ignored these signs. Many of us ignore our own signs. Because saying ‘no’ is really hard. Because we end up feeling guilty, because we want to help, because we don’t want to let anyone down, because we long to be liked. But as Carver writes, “saying ‘no’ more honestly will give you a chance to say ‘yes’ to who and what you genuinely care about.”
- “I will measure more by what’s in my heart and less by what’s on my list.” “If there weren’t enough items crossed off my to-do list or I didn’t do more than everyone around me, I felt like a failure…I thought if I could do more, perform better, and climb the ladder faster, I’d be happier, more successful, and people would love me more,” Carver writes. However, she realized that people couldn’t love her for her accomplishments. But they could love her for who she really was. “When I was consumed with doing more, I didn’t even know who I really was.” Carver suggests focusing more on what’s inside our hearts and how we treat others, including how we treat ourselves.
- “I will prioritize love and health.” Carver protects and honors what’s most important to her. She’s let go of both physical and psychological clutter, which sparked stress in her life and exacerbated her multiple sclerosis. What are your priorities? Are you actually prioritizing them right now?
- “I will ask better questions so we don’t have to talk about how busy we are.” As Carver says, talking about how busy we are doesn’t help us feel connected. It actually just makes us feel busy. Instead of asking, “How are you?” she asks “What was the best part of your day?” or “Who or what made you smile today?” She suggests banning “busy” from our vocabulary and focusing on gratitude. Or, I think, focus on truth. If you’re feeling upset, talk about it. Talk about your sadness or your anxiety. Release it. What’s hiding behind your super busyness?
- “I will not let my phone run my life.” Carver used to check her phone constantly and everywhere. Can you relate? She suggests turning off notifications; silencing your phone when something requires your undivided attention; and experimenting with no-phone days and removing email and social media apps from your phone.
- “I will trade my FOMO for JOMO.” Instead of having a fear of missing out, Carver feels the joy of missing out. Doing less means she misses out on things, but it also means that she has the attention and energy to focus on what means the most to her—and to protect and savor it.
- “I will linger longer.” Carver watches the sun rise and set. She actually tastes her food and notices beautiful details, like joy in someone’s eyes. “Don’t apologize for daydreaming, stargazing, or any activity that speaks to your soul. Take a long walk, a short nap, or sit quietly,” she writes.
Busy, of course, looks different for everyone. What feels busy and hectic and chaotic and overwhelming to one person feels like a breeze to another. Which is why we often find ourselves getting busier and busier: We feel like we have to keep up. Maybe we feel guilty for slowing down, thinking we need to fill every space in our day in order to be productive and useful and worthy, in order to make money, in order to succeed. Maybe we feel like we’re missing out (on what, we’re not exactly sure).
Pause for a few minutes, and consider how you’re feeling about how your days currently unfold, about what’s on your plate, about what’s become a priority—and whether you need things to change. Because it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, or what anyone else thinks about your schedule. What matters is how you feel inside your own heart.