Too Busy or Too Afraid to Slow Down?

Everyone complains saying, “I just don’t have enough free time,” “I really wish I had time to do that” or, “I am just so booked!” Yes, like you, I have filled most of my time with stuff, but I was wondering recently if that is just something we do to avoid free time? Perhaps free time is something we fear?

It could be argued that free time is at the root of many of our societal problems. Free time is when bad habits are acted upon. Free time is when your brain takes you down rabbit holes that could be harmful to yourself and your relationships. Addictions are fed during free time.

(NOTE: In a case of ‘physician heal thyself,’ those rabbit holes are the reason I stay so busy.  They are dark places.)

As we have changed from rural to urban, we do have a quite a bit more free time.  If the task of survival takes less hours in a day than it did in the past, why do we feel we don’t have any free time? Time that was once spent in the field, the yard, the barn etc. is now filled by television, Facebook and other mindless pursuits.

In fact, free time seems to make some folks uncomfortable. You know (or may even be) the type – they run, run, run but when you really look at their schedule, a lot of it is just busy work. They plan a trip to the grocery store – their third of the week. They decide to run out and “look at” something they are thinking about buying. They setup meetings to have meetings. They do anything they can to avoid sitting alone with their thoughts – or habits.

Studies have shown that the wealthier people are, the busier they feel. Part of that perception could be explained by the increased options of things to do. But, isn’t this just more self-imposed busy-ness? Studies have also shown that the wealthier people are, the more bored they feel. It seems the truth (as usual) lies somewhere in the middle

Does that mean that all free time is bad? Not at all. It means that there is potential for negative.

You can choose to do something positive with your free time – spend time with family (not just watching TV) – be outside – exercise – read (something useful) – meditate – rest – pray.  There are so many ways you can leverage that free time into personal enrichment.

Be careful though… if you fill all your free time with enriching activities, you are back in the same boat. Run, run, run.  When you have scheduled positive things to fill your free time – make sure you want to do them.  If you decide at the last minute that you don’t want to go for a run… then DON’T – just don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and grab some ice cream and settle in to binge watch a new TV show if that is what you are wanting to get away from.

When you look back at your life, you sure as heck won’t remember fondly all the times you ate ice cream, binge watched TV, took that extra trip to the store… you’ll think back and wonder why you didn’t just sit back under a tree and chill or turn off the tube and just visit with the people who love you.

by Chris Doelle


Also published on Medium.