You Don’t Need to Feel Guilty For Not Being Busy

A culture of being busy may be wounding our souls

Kaki Okumura
Forge
Published in
3 min readFeb 19, 2022

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Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

“I am so busy.”

I am not exactly sure when I found myself in a position where this statement felt like a 2-in-1 boast and complaint.

Perhaps I first started feeling this in high school, when having a social life, good grades, and sleep all seemed to be working in a trade-off system, and people competed to have the least hours of sleep. Or maybe it was before then, watching movies and television shows as a child, and montage scenes of a hardworking, tired employee pore of their work well into midnight. Nevertheless, I’ve come to understand that I was shaped by a society that valued being busy.

But is busyness as a value all that great?

In Japanese, the characters for “busy” are made up of the characters for ‘soul’ and ‘loss’. Being busy is quite literally described as a loss of our soul.

心:soul

亡:loss

忙:busy

Growing into an adult, I was able to more closely witness the repercussions of a lack of time on people’s health and wellbeing. Physically, people were struggling to find the time to exercise and eat well, but mentally, I saw a loss of inspiration and contentment among many people.

Working hard can be good for us, and I believe in the value of immersing yourself in your goals, but without the balance of rest we can find ourselves lost and unhappy.

Because what is productivity or success without a soul?

I’ve come to realize that being busy also means losing the space to connect with ourselves, and instead having that space overwhelmed by the pressure of time. We grow less mindful of how we feel, our purpose, and the grander perspective of any given situation. Instead we grow more committed to deadlines, tasks, and deliverables that are asked of us…

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Kaki Okumura
Forge
Writer for

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: www.kakikata.space 🌱