When we say we’re so “busy”, what are we really saying? Do we have a full schedule? Do we have a lot of physical tasks? Do we have a lot of mental tasks?
“Busy” is such an over-used term. When your friend asks you how you’re doing, besides “fine”, it’s probably “busy.” But where does the conversation go from there? A long rant on whats going wrong, who said what, who did what, or whatever plights you feel you’ve suffered. We’re dumping that on someone else and we’re inviting someone else to dump on us too.

Let’s say what we mean. Instead of saying we’re “busy,” let’s think critically about how we’re actually doing.

What interesting thing has happened?

What interesting thing will happen?

What are your goals?

What experiences have you had?

What activity are you doing that’s adding value to your life?

These are the types of topics we need to discuss when prompted with “how are you doing” or “what’s up?” You know what happens next? The questioner is encouraged to share as well. Now you’re really talking to each other instead of talking at each other. You’re having a meaningful conversation with another human being and instead of feeling pessimistic, you feel connected. If the questioner, isn’t as forthcoming. Ask them one of the questions above and maybe they’ll open up.

Let’s remember the definition of “busy”, as per Merriam-Webster:


a : engaged in action : occupied

b : being in use

2 : full of activity

3 : foolishly or intrusively active : meddling

4 : full of distracting detail

Definition 1 a

This really shouldn’t apply unless you are actually completing an activity. Instead of saying “busy”, just say what you’re doing. Example: “I’m making dinner right now.”

Definition 1 b and 2

This is used to describe objects. Not people. Example: “The telephone is busy.” or “The printer is busy.”

Definition 3

I hope this isn’t you but we’ve all been that micro-manager who needs to be “involved” in every aspect of something. This probably isn’t want you mean when you say you’re “busy.”

Definition 4

Unless you’re an overwhelming painting or disco paints, this will not apply either.
Now that you’ve read this, you’ll start realizing how much you say “busy.” I still say it so much even though its much less than I used to. It helps to think about the person you’re talking to. They’re asking me how I’m doing because they care. Let me acknowledge that care by being transparent and engaging. Let me accept that care by giving them an opportunity to acknowledge me.

Let’s avoid the one-word answers and have meaningful conversations.

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