Can’t stop, must stop: escaping the cult of busy



Devyn Leeson

Meeting deadlines, resume building and constant work all define the course our society is moving towards, but can it be stopped?

Kimberly Hope Belcher, assistant professor of liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame, asked this during her lecture titled “Escaping the Cult of Busy.”

Belcher sees an issue with this. To start her lecture off, she said that as a society we are hyper focused on competing to get ahead of one another nowadays to the point where “even kindergarteners are getting hours of homework a night.”

This, Belcher says, is leading to us sacrificing our time for society’s productivity.

“When we are finally too tired to keep working, we do leisure to fill ourselves up like a phone battery and get back on the production cycle,” Belcher said. “The obvious solution is do less, and we say that to ourselves, but we don’t do it. We can’t do it. Doing less, while it may be necessary only increases our sense that there are an infinite amount of things that we won’t get to. We just can’t do everything”

Here are the things that she suggests people can do to “escape the cult of busy.”

Create bubbles of communal time to resist the cult of busy.

Belcher says that society’s requirement of people to stay busy is a systemic issue that can’t be solved on an individual level, but there are things that can be done as a group. Most notably, she says it is a good idea to make time for your community by setting aside one or more days of the week to make connections with people. 

Seize opportunities for contemplation when they arise.

Belcher said that it is okay to waste your time. People should take a minute to look around and take everything in. The most simple example she gave was to chew your food more slowly and take in every bite. This type of contemplation, she said, is healthy.

Finally, she pointed out that people are afraid of silence. When nothing is happening the instinct of people is to go for their phone. People should instead embrace silence and clear their thoughts or take that time to connect with the people around them.

Throw productivity to the winds, and set up an alternate reason for being.

People should focus on building relationships, or doing what you are passionate about rather than striving to do everything.

Embrace that you can’t do everything and depend on one another.

“No one gets out alive, but we can go together,” Belcher said.

Belcher said this explaining that the only thing that we own in this life is our death. We don’t know how long we will live so any time you give to someone is literally giving your life to that person.

As a result, Belcher said time is the most important resource any individual could give, so it is best to build relationships with people to give it to.

Don’t be afraid.

The last thing Belcher said was that ultimately fear is what makes us anxious and what makes us constantly busy. By letting go, loosening up and taking your time, society may be able to escape the “cult of business.”