Somehow, the world has tricked us into thinking that being busy is always a good thing, as it is often equated with productivity or having a sense of accomplishment. However, I have come to realize that being busy could also mean being merely occupied and rushing, always, without a sense of purpose.
A few years into my twenties, I found myself very busy and yet ironically very bored considering that I had a lot of things on my plate: working on a day job while handling a business on the side, keeping up with my parents who were on the other side of the world, trying to cope with broken friendships, making sure that I had enough supply of food at home, going on trips that helped me build the illusion that I lived a healthy life — oh, and on top of everything, making sure that I shared it with everyone and looked happy.
Until one day, I came across an online challenge to stay away from the Internet for a whole 24 hours and, as it was posted, “see how it changes your life.” Dazed and desperate as I was for change, I tried it out. Lo and behold, it became a day when I re-discovered that sense of freedom I once possessed– back when I had all the time in the world, long before humanity’s dependence on smart phones and other mind-blowing technology. Just by reading the challenge itself already made me feel nostalgic in a perfectly good way, much like hearing old songs that trigger good memories.
I realized how focusing too much on the future also entailed missing opportunities to be happy in the present, and overlooking seemingly small moments that could actually be cherished for a lifetime. In my experience of being offline for a day, I noticed heightened awareness of my surroundings and saw the world as if it was for the first time. I became calmer, more focused, less moody, and less rattled, as if my brain had de-cluttered itself and paved way for a more efficient performance in the office. More importantly, I felt significantly in touch with my emotions, which consequently helped me to become sensitive to the needs of people around me. Since I was taking a break from wasting energy and time on negative posts online, I had all the clarity spent on grasping how others were actually feeling.
In fact, in my workplace, I heard a lot of implied calls for comfort that I didn’t hear of before in all the months of working with the same people. I realized how a lot of my colleagues only needed someone to help them recognize their little accomplishments to boost their morale, and so, I was able to give more compliments and reinforce positive support to others. That day, I was even able to slow down and digest some constructive remarks and turn them into useful ideas instead of completely blocking them out.
For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t so rushed. I was able to pause, look around, notice the simple things and be thankful for them– like being able to walk, encourage people, smell, eat, and witness the world morph into something new each day. Surprisingly, I didn’t end up feeling like I missed out on all the fun in the virtual world. In fact, I have not felt such contentment in a long time.
This is my testimony; that it is possible to feel in control of your life in this fast-paced world. We can start by refusing to believe that in order to be happier, we need to gain more. Choose to lose everything that is unnecessary, anything that distracts us from being present in the moment so that we can begin living to the fullest.