The Unhurried Alternative

La vie est faite de petits bonheurs. – French proverb

These days, busyness is often worn as a badge of honor. Products that promise efficiency and encourage multitasking depend on it. As does the ladder toward contemporary notions of success and achievement. But there’s something to be said for the unhurried life, that leaves hours unfilled and minutes unstructured.

Not having enough time is a common complaint. Whether it’s spent walking the dog, catching up with someone you love, or attending to small tasks like washing dishes or sorting laundry, each day can feel like a race to the finish line.

Similarly, our jobs regularly demand us to work overtime, and by week’s end, can leave us feeling like a fraction of our Monday selves.

Imagine your time as a cup you had to fill each day. Would it be filled to the brim, or would you leave some room at the top? Would it be filled with what you savor, or leave a bitter aftertaste?

When we’re doing something we enjoy, we often don’t describe ourselves as busy. We don’t say, “I was busy reading my favorite book”, or, “I was busy going for a hike”. But when we’re burdened with less desirable tasks, we might say, “I was busy at work”, or, “I was busy cleaning out the closet”.

It’s not surprising that as we grow older, we find ourselves recalling things we wished we’d spent more time pursuing: learning a language, volunteering, traveling, or simply taking in and appreciating our surroundings.

When our days are jam-packed and we’re forced to rely on fading daylight or long weekends to relax, unwind, and play, we’re not so much living as we are recovering from our busy lives. 

Imagine there being no sense of urgency to move from one task to the next, but having the freedom to wholeheartedly engage with whatever’s before you. Or choosing to tackle 5 things from your to-do list because that’s more realistic than a superhuman 10. Imagine what you’ll look back on, and wish you’d done more of.

As much as we can feel tugged in a dozen different directions each day, we have the choice to grab on or let go. The pressures that arise are external, driven by a society that mercilessly tries to convince us that in order to be more, we must do more.

It’s easy to heedlessly say yes to each new opportunity that presents itself, but it’s more enriching to commit more of yourself to less, instead of less of yourself to more.

Imagine your time as a cup you had to fill each day. Would it be filled to the brim, or would you leave some room at the top? Would it be filled with what you savor, or leave a bitter aftertaste? Who would you sip and share it with?

When we give fully of ourselves, we naturally invite others to do the same. This doesn’t demand that we fill every hour, but simply that we’re filled by how we spend them.