Most of us lead pretty busy lives, but have you ever thought about the difference between being good busy and bad busy? I’m going to give you some examples along with my opinion on the difference, but I ask that you consider the differences yourself and then come to your own conclusions. I hope that this article/podcast will get you moving in the direction of spending more time being under the influence of good busy.
Being busy can feel overwhelming. Sometimes there seems to be so much going on in your life that it wears on you. You feel like you need a break, you may be stressed out and might use this as your reason to drink. But I think it’s important to stop and assess the situation. Would you rather have a busy life or be bored out of your skull? We all want to have a happy balance between busy and relaxed and we all have different desires of how busy we want to be. Some people thrive on a hectic schedule, others feel completely overwhelmed by even the smallest amount of responsibilities.
I believe that if you’re not busy you might be tempted to go down an unhealthy path. At least that’s how it is with me. Even if I’m busy with mundane or dull things, I still feel like I’m good busy. I do a lot of things that don’t have a big payoff, but if I wouldn’t get them done, I would end up with bigger problems. Keeping my house clean is an example of this. If my house is a mess then I don’t feel like doing other important things like paying my bills or working on developing my businesses. If I let small, but important duties fall to the side, then all of a sudden I find myself under pressure. If I don’t pay my bills on time then I have late fees or I’m scattering to take care of stuff that I should have taken care of. Then all of a sudden I’m busy, but it’s bad busy.
Staying busy was the best thing I did during the early stages of my sobriety. I can’t say that everything I was doing was productive, but it was still what I would consider as good busy because it kept me mentally and physically preoccupied, so I wasn’t thinking about drinking and I wasn’t just sitting around thinking or talking about my sobriety. And now, always being busy is the best way for me to maintain and continue with my sobriety. At this point in my life I’m way too busy to drink. There are so many things that I want to get accomplished, that I want to do and that I want to experience that I don’t have time for drinking. For me, staying busy is a distraction from the desire to drink. And I know that if I were to start drinking I’d never get anything done towards accomplishing or experiencing any of my goals.
You don’t have to be hyper-productive to be good busy. Reading a book, talking with friends, going on a vacation or watching a television program or movie that you like can be good busy. I think being good busy is all about enhancing the experience of your life. Some people would argue that getting drunk or getting all ghenked up is a life enhancing experience. For a good part of my teens and adulthood I did think that getting loaded was a life enhancing experience. And I did have a good time during my drinking and drugging years, but I also fucked up a lot of things and all my fuck ups came back around to make my life unpleasant. Even with all the rotten shit I did and all the people I either pissed-off or disappointed, I still feel that my biggest sin as a drunk was that drinking got in the way of me being good busy. Too much of my time, my skills, my mental focus, my money and my life was involved in the bad busy of getting drunk or loaded. I missed out on a lot of really good life building and life enhancing opportunities because of being bad busy.
So what is bad busy? Bad busy is filling your life with drama, and usually it’s not even your own drama. Getting involved in gossip or someone else’s problems is BAD busy. It might make you feel important and involved, but it’s bad busy and it distracts you from your own life. Getting overly involved in other people’s problems uses up your valuable, limited time. Sitting and commiserating with someone about their problems very often leads to drinking, and neither of those is a good use of your time. Not that spending time with other people or helping other people with their problems is wrong or a poor use of your time, but there’s only so much you can do for another person. I often say, “I can’t exercise and lose weight for you and I can’t stay sober for you. I can only support you and help you so much. Ultimately you have to do these things yourself.” Limiting your time and the depth of your involvement will help you avoid bad busy.
Another example of bad busy is fixing all the shit you did while you were drinking or drunk. After a good bender you might have to call people to apologize or to find out what you did. You might have to tend to all sorts of weird problems like clean your house or clean the puke off your bathroom ceiling. You may also find yourself busy sleeping as you nurse a hangover. That’s bad busy. Plus, while you were spending your time drinking you didn’t do other things you probably should have taken care of or wanted to do. And now you’re cleaning up after your drinking binge and you’re still not taking care of responsibilities, but you sure are busy.
Being in a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship (or because you think you’re supposed to be in a relationship), is another example of bad busy. The time you invest in a relationship that isn’t fun or rewarding is eating up precious time you could be spending doing something else or spending with someone else. People often get involved in these types of relationships. They feel that they have no value or lead a boring life if they’re not in some sort of relationship. But a worthless relationship can sap your time and energy. I can’t claim these words as original, I heard someone else make this statement: “I would rather be alone than wish I was.” It’s okay to be alone or not be in a relationship.
A bad or unrewarding marriage is a different matter. If you’re married, then that means you made a commitment to commit yourself to making your marriage work. Working at a floundering marriage isn’t necessarily bad busy. Being responsible for your children isn’t bad busy. You may have to sacrifice some of your own satisfactions and luxuries to accommodate your children. Spending time with and raising well-adjusted children will keep you busy, but that’s never bad busy.
Another example of bad busy is when you spend a lot of your time focused or worrying about your own sobriety. I know that it’s important to keep a focus on sobriety, but eventually don’t you just want to live a normal life? I understand that many people find groups to be helpful for them, (and it may be beneficial during the early stages), but those group sessions require your time. If you’re spending time doing one thing, then you don’t have time to do something else. Simply getting busy and getting on with your own life will probably be the best thing for your sustained sobriety. If you’re extremely busy working on goals and moving your life in a forward direction you won’t have time to drink or even be in a position where you’ll be tempted to drink.
So what is good busy? Everyone’s life goals and desires are unique to them. I don’t think it’s proper for me to tell you what actual activities would be good busy for you. But I do believe that there is a measure or a rule of thumb. I believe that if what you’re doing is enhancing your life, your family’s life or is building towards a better future, then that’s what I would call good busy. Even in the case of getting up and going to a job that you don’t like, you’re earning a living that I hope is enabling for a good existence for you and your family. If it isn’t, then you might want to get good busy and begin furthering your education or skill sets so you can pursue a job or career that is rewarding.
Since I stopped drinking my mental clarity has helped me begin to understand the power behind being busy and I’m better understanding the difference between good busy and bad busy. Yet I find that it’s not always easy for me to determine whether something falls under good busy or bad busy. I like to always be busy, but some of my “busy work” probably isn’t all that productive or moving my life forward. Even in sobriety I’m still capable of deluding myself and getting so busy at being busy that I’m too busy to do important things or things that require hard work. I’ll involve myself into “busy work” to avoid other responsibilities, to avoid doing the hard jobs or I’ll tell myself that I’m “too busy” to hang out and enjoy a social life. When I see myself doing that, I realize I’m partaking in bad busy. Yet even when I’m not able to determine what activities are truly good busy and which are bad busy, I still stay busy and being busy is what helps me continue living as a non-drinker.
I suggest that the next time you find yourself deeply involved in something or getting ready to involve yourself in something or someone else’s business, ask yourself: “Is this good busy or bad busy? Will this improve my existence or enhance my life experience? Is this the best use of my time?” The answer to those questions will be solely on you. And I hope you’re able to keep yourself focused on always being good busy.
These are my own opinions and observations. Think for yourself and come to your own conclusions. If you enjoy this stuff or get something out of it please tell your friends about my blog, podcasts and website. It’s LivingSoberSucks.com. You can find my books in paperback, eBook or if you prefer, you can get my Audiobooks. My books and audiobooks are available through Amazon, Apple, all sorts of places. I put my blog, podcasts and website out for people to access FREE of charge. If you like what I do and what I write about, you can show your support by making a donation to my site, it’s done securely through PayPal: http://www.livingsobersucks.com/donate_to_this_site I post a truthful report on my website of how much is donated and what all this costs me. Thank you for spending some of your very valuable time with me. Mark Tuschel.