It seems to me that our society is in love with being busy and that if you don’t fit this busy person model then you are not ‘normal’ and in need of fixing.
I see it everywhere; subtle and not so subtle reinforcements of this societal norm. Often it manifests as the way everything is promoted to save time or to fit around our busy lives. One such thing is Mindfulness meditation, an increasingly mainstream concept and practice. It’s offered in a bewildering array of apps, books and online content, all of which seems to be designed and marketed for people with really busy lives. This assumption seems to permeate marketing and societal messages generally; Yes we know you are terribly busy but…. just buy this or do that and you’ll feel calmer/ have more space, feel more relaxed.
I feel a huge pressure to fit into this norm. And that I am somehow failing by having lots of space in my life. It makes me feels like this space is literally a sign of how I am not making the grade.
On an existential, psycho/social level I think the message is this; If you don’t achieve lots of socially accepted things then you are not a valued human being. I remember telling someone once how much less than the norm I did and she literally didn’t know what to say!
We are all unique, completely one off creations, great magical works of art and beauty that transcend the need to justify our existence by fitting into societal norms around what is valued. But this can be hard to feel deep in my bones when the world keeps trying to tell me that my value is based on what I do and what I achieve.
I think it’s great to do and achieve, but there is something rotten and festering at the heart of this assumption that we need to justify our existence on this earth.
My sense is that a lot of illness is down to this often unacknowledged pressure to fit in. It feeds into illness in a number of ways; Firstly it pushes people to do more than they are really wanting to thereby leading to ill health. Secondly I believe that our bodies have a wisdom that will literally give us a socially accepted way out of the busy paradigm by making us ill. On some level our subconscious/body wisdom knows the least shameful way out of doing things we don’t want to do, is to get sick.
One thing that I believe could radically undermine this whole stuck, self perpetuating mechanism is a Universal Basic Income. If everyone received enough money to live at a basic but reasonable level, just by existing, the whole underlying connection between our value and what we achieve, especially around work, would be challenged on a profound level. More on that another time methinks…