Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

3 Essential Elements for Living with Ease

The ‘Busy’ Trap is an outstanding personal essay that explores how busyness has become a badge of honor in the 21st century.  Telling others, “I’m so busy” is a “boast disguised as a complaint”, claims author Tim Kreider.

Do you really want the busy badge in your collection?  I want to throw mine away!  I still get caught in the busy trap from time-to-time, but the balance is moving toward living with ease.

So how do you break away from this hard-pressed entrapment, which may be entangled with your sense of worthiness and positive self-esteem?

How can you step away from working 24/7, constantly promoting, skimming the net, or speeding along without feeling anxious, guilty, or ill at ease?

Here are the essential lessons I’m learning as I bounce between busyness and ease.

1.  Shift Your Attitude.  It all starts with the mind.  Make a decision to align with ease instead of busy as a bee.

Notice how often you speak of busyness.  What do you say?  What’s the storyline?  Write it out just to be clear.  Veer away from talking about busyness.

Make a list of what brings you ease from the small (a one moment pause)  to the sublime (two weeks in Bali).  Then casually integrate these lightening activities one at a time.  Begin to learn and speak the language of ease.  “I felt so nourished after my 10-minute walk.”  “A simple tea break brought me so much spaciousness and joy.”

Clear intention creates the momentum for ease.

2.  Choose Simplicity.  Eliminate excess.  Gradually or radically.  Physical excess:  clutter and all the unnecessary material items that make your life look and feel like a permanent garage sale.  Emotional excess:  negative emotions, unhelpful habitual grooves, age-old personal stories.  Mental excess:  too many thoughts.

Contrary to popular assumption, you don’t need to think to solve problems.  The best solutions arise when you are simply spacious, aware, and at ease.

Simplicity creates the environment of ease.

3.  Embrace Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the way to interrupt the busyness parade.  By being present in the moment you will be able to see when you are fraught with busyness and, thus, have the option to stop.

Pause.  Yes, right now!  Tune into your body, mind, and emotions.  Are you at ease?  Or, are you hunched over the computer, muscles clenched?  Maybe, thinking about the 1,001 things on your to-do list? Or worried about x, y, and z?

Pause and breathe in some space.

Take a look into your mind and see what’s happening there.  It may take a little time, but in simple mindfulness meditation, you can discover there really is space between thoughts. You can learn to allow all the internal commotion to slow down to the pace of a meandering stream.  Thoughts may arise but they no longer pull you into the past and the future, hope and fear, agitation and worry and the unnecessary dramas we create in life.

Not over-thinking is the essence of ease.

My friend Tess Marshall says:

“Life is simple. We choose to complicate it. We have the power to live simple and happy lives by doing things just a little bit differently.”

A few last tips for shifting to living with ease:

  • Start very small.
  • Take one step at a time.
  • Be present and enjoy the task at hand.
  • Rejoice for every positive step you take.

Relax, release, ease!

Do you feel trapped by busyness?  Do you agree with Tim Kreider that busyness is “a boast described as a complaint?”

Thank you for reading and sharing!  If you enjoyed this article please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra

Photo:  public domain



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  1. Thanks for sharing 3 great tips Sandra. Interesting how our minds are the cause of our busyness:) And we’re usually too busy to pay any attention to it! The only way to live a simpler life is to actively do so and to be conscious about it.

    • Hi Vishnu,

      I found this article on the busyness trap so well articulated! It helped me encapsulated my thoughts on living with ease! Yes, it all comes back to the mind, doesn’t it? Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Sandra – Another great post, thank you.
    Busyness … is a “boast disguised as a complaint” – this is so true! I have a dear friend who never fails to greet me on the phone or at the door with “I’ve only got a minute …” and then goes on to talk endlessly! May she read this.
    BTW I love your new head shot. Such generosity of spirit in that beautiful face!

    • Hi Miriam,

      Thank you for adding this story. That sense of “I’ve only got a minute…” can feel so agitated and pressed. It immediately resonate with how difficult that state is. Boasts usually come from a state of insecurity. How sad it is that we use busyness to boost ourselves up.

      And thanks for your feedback on my new photo. I’m generally not so photogenic so this was a lucky catch!

  3. jean sampson

    Yep, that thing of being busy is a result of our Protestant work ethic! We need to sit at more cafes and have coffee and wine as we watch the world go by! And I think you really hit on something when you spoke about getting rid of clutter because, as long as we have clutter around us (I am just as guilty as anyone else—my excuse? A really small house!) we are potentially busy at trying to get around to doing something about our clutter! Did you follow that? My fantasy is that I will finally have enough time to be able to get my little house ALL clean and de-cluttered at one time, not piecemeal, as I usually have to do. Then I will not be so busy because all the work that I have to do will be done and I can sit down and put my feet up at last! Have you ever heard of anything funnier?

    • Hi Jean,

      It’s definitely different in other cultures! Yet, we tend to think our own experience is reality and that can entrap us. This is a bit ironic the way thinking about removing our clutter can absorb so much of our energy! It’s a beautiful fantasy, but I’ve noticed how the clutter starts to stack up again. Yikes! Thanks for your humorous thoughts.

  4. I’ve noticed how the “I’m so busy” complaint is also given with an air of superiority, as if having so many things to do makes that person very, very important. In my own efforts to escape this trap, one thing that helps me is reminding myself that I have enough. If I start to get into my own busy trap, which is often accompanied by fear that I’m too busy, I remind myself there’s enough–enough time, enough money, enough love, enough everything. And then I slow down and there is enough. It is actually quite magical.

    • Charlotte,

      I love this strategy of aligning with there’s enough! It sounds magical and a wonderful trick we can all try out. Thanks for sharing your wizardry!

  5. “A boast disguised as a complaint.” We do value busyness in this culture. Some of us have heard the old saying “Idle hands do the devil’s work.” Better stay busy to avoid that!

    I find myself doing that, too–starting to “complain” about being busy. But I can’t really get very far since I have retired and my time fills up only because I choose to fill it up. So if a complaining thought starts to form in my mind, I have to look in the mirror and remind myself to make a different choice.

    And yes, I’m sitting here at the computer, not hunched over and tense, but with a to do list on sticky notes right beside me. You must have peeked into my office!

    So I’m going to write on the list right now–go sit outside with your tea and a book.


    • Hi Galen,

      Your description of sitting at the computer with your to-do list gave me a laugh. I like you personal prescription of (1) going outside (2) tea (3) a book. That sounds like a lovely way to take space to me.

      This is indeed a cultural phenomena. To bad we couldn’t do a massive ‘culture swap’ for awhile and try a different way.

  6. Northmoon

    This sums up what I am aiming for in my efforts to simplify and declutter. I just noticed that I used the term ‘effort’ which is me being busy trying to not to have such a complex life!! I need to reread this several times and perhaps have it sink in to my actual life practice. So hard for me to make a cultural shift from busyness to relaxed living.
    “Contrary to popular assumption, you don’t need to think to solve problems. The best solutions arise when you are simply spacious, aware, and at ease.”
    Love this quote, and I do believe it is true.

    • Hello Northmoon,

      You underlined so perfectly how subtle this busyness habit can be! We can even get busy with simplicity! I loved the way that you pointed that are. This shift is not an easy one to make, but it seems like you are headed in the right direction and I trust you will continue well into your relaxed way of living. Thanks for your thoughts.

  7. A great post- just tweeted it to my followers. Tom

  8. I really enjoyed Tim’s easy, I think his advice is timeless:

    “I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy.”

    Everyone should think about that the next time they brush off a friend’s lunch invite because they are ‘too busy to leave the office.’

    • Hi Jason,

      I found it a fabulous essay too and was very happy to share it. I’m glad to hear it hit the spot for you too. Thanks for taking a moment to join the conversation.

  9. I love this definition of busyness … is a “boast disguised as a complaint”. Too often, when we are so busy “complaining” about what all we have to do, we loose sight of what’s really important. I prefer to consciously spend time with loved ones and not dilly dally at every pit stop along the journey.

    • Gladys,

      I really appreciate your enthusiasm for this definition! I’m sure your loved ones are very grateful to have you in their life! Gosh, I definitely think I need to read your latest post. 🙂 Here’s to fun and clarity!

  10. Hi Sandra! I really loved this post. It truly is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of this world. Reading posts and quotes about this side of the situation really remind me of what is important. It’s amazing how much clarity a little quiet can bring. I love this: “Contrary to popular assumption, you don’t need to think to solve problems. The best solutions arise when you are simply spacious, aware, and at ease.” This is something I’ve learned recently, and it makes every day just so much easier. Society is constantly rushing, deciding, moving forward, when the most wise, wonderful thing we can do is just slow down, remain calm and let things come to us. Then simply decide what to do once it is time. Chances are you will already know by then, anyway. 🙂 Thank you for this post! 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Amanda. I agree with your completely! Let’s slow down and be present for our life so we don’t miss it altogether. I really liked what you said about how a little quiet can bring so much clarity!

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