The Disease of Being Busy


The Disease of Being Busy by Omid Safi, recipient of the 2009 Teaching Award for Professor of the Year at Duke University:

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.” Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.” The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

…How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

…In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know…

Don’t miss his entire post @ The Disease of Being Busy

or his follow-on post titled: The Thief of Intimacy, Busyness

Image Source: Duke University



  1. What a better question to pose – for it makes one stop and consider. There is no ‘pat’ answer – how is one’s heart at any moment in time?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Have to answered “How are you” with “I’m so busy!”?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find when I answer “I’m fine” or “I’m well” to the question “how are you?”, people will often then ask “but are you busy?”. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Smiling. Love the close (sigh). So true.


    • Your thought reminds me of his follow-on piece:

      We live in a culture that celebrates activity. We collapse our sense of who we are into what we do for a living. The public performance of busyness is how we demonstrate to one another that we are important. The more people see us as tired, exhausted, over-stretched, the more they think we must be somehow… indispensable. That we matter…I know I matter each time I look into the eyes of she who matters most to me. I don’t gain anything by stepping into the swamp of busyness. No one emerges from this busyness whole.

      We have become a thing-centered society: the accumulation of stuff is one of our favorite priorities. We define our worth through the number of tasks we fulfill. How do we become a person-centered society again?

      Tasks are finite. They come at us with an endless barrage. We check them off, and more follow.

      So what’s the price we pay for being busy? It’s not that being busy makes us more stressed, or less efficient, or less pleasant. It’s that we miss out. We miss out on an extraordinary amount of time, of being present, of living in intimacy with the people we love the most. The price we pay is… intimacy.

      ~ Omid Safi, Thief of Intimacy, Busyness

      Liked by 2 people

  4. i really, really love this. getting back to what matters and what is real – ‘how is your heart, at this very moment?’ – as opposed to ‘what is the state of the union?’

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am perpetually busy — but I give the busy comment to those whom I don’t really care to engage with – or whom I know don’t care much about my response 🙂

    Here’s to a day of nothing … MJ

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This disease seems to have infected most of us

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on simple cherishes and commented:
    Beautiful reminder – how is your heart doing today, dear?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you David – beautiful reading on a Saturday – like his second piece too:

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” a beautiful question

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I also have found it is the “identity” and “validation” of busyness that we attach to the most. These are wise words from Omid Safi.

    I have started teaching meditation classes and for some it is their first time in stillness and their first time considering they have a heart. So yes! let us ask these questions to each other and help remind us what is important. Great post David.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m one of those “try to do it all” people. How many times have my kids and grandchildren heard me say “I’m soooooooo busy”…and yet, I try to listen to my heart, I know what is important…but I can’t get away from being sooooooo busy. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Omg…not too long ago, at a work potluck I was across from a colleague who always seems to want to to win the busy war. Her sighs and eye rolls and litanies of how much she has to do eclipses all else. I made a comment – a general comment – about how *some people* seem to want to win the busy battle and to them I say, the victory is all yours, I really don’t want to win that!! I don’t think she read between my not so subtle lines, but it occurred to me that day, that I’d rather know how a person *is* much more than what is on their to-do list. We are all busy…that’s a fact, but what do we win if we win the busy battle?


    Liked by 2 people

  13. Compassion Changes says:

    Reblogged this on Compassion Changes and commented:
    When did we get so busy?



  1. […] absolutely thankful for David’s post that led me to this great and ever-timely read. Thank you for sharing your light through your […]


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