The Art of Being Present: How to Overcome The Culture of Busy

the art of being present: how to overcome the culture of busy

Being truly present in our lives has been a popular conversation as of late.

Mindfulness is the new buzzword. Everyone I know, myself included, is trying meditation for at least a few minutes per day.

As an adult living with ADHD, I have trouble juggling my professional life and my family life, let alone cleaning my house and making sure I meditate for at least 10 minutes a day.

Admittedly, I am chronically stressed and overwhelmed with my life.

Dropping an ADHD adult with an already burdened Executive Function System into our current lifestyle – you know, the age of cel phones, ipads, laptops and the internet, is like dropping a 4 year-old off at Chucky Cheese.

We race through life, seemingly loving every minute, while inside our brains are so over stimulated with caffeine and blue light we cannot fall asleep at night. And when we do sleep, it is fitfully and we rarely wake feeling rested.

What I am trying to say is the over stimulated, over scheduled, overworked culture that we live in is making it impossible for us to be truly present in our lives.

Whether you have ADHD or not, you want to be present for your family and the people you care about.

how to overcome the culture of busy

The Art of Being Present: How to overcome the culture of busy


According to Tim Kreider in his article for the New York Times <SOURCE>

“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”

What I take from this is that we need to feel busy to feel significant. We need to feel in demand, so that others do not perceive us as boring, or unpopular. <shudder>

As Kreider remarks, “I am not busy. I am the laziest ambitious person I know.”

Hey, me too! Except I know I am not lazy. I have ADHD and I schedule myself for too many appointments, and I say, “yes” to too many volunteer opportunities. And I come home and collapse at the end of each day with my thoughts racing and my head hurting.

Connect with people instead of devices

I recently read this wonderful article on the website You can find it HERE.

The author, Omid Safi, discusses how in Muslim cultures, when you greet someone you are asking, “How is your haal?” Haal meaning, “how is your heart doing at this very moment?”

[bctt tweet=”How is your heart doing at this very moment?” username=”HealthyADHD”]

Safi goes on to explain that we are not supposed to just say “I’m so busy…blah blah blah.” We are supposed to connect with each other. What a novel concept.

My Solution: Call your best friend, or that friend who moved away and have a conversation so you can hear their voice.

Reduce self-imposed stress

I’ve been thinking lately about the role of stress and “busyness” in the lives of women with ADHD.

Not only are we too busy, according to the American Psychological Association, we are also experiencing an unhealthy level of stress associated with our lifestyle. Link Here.

The main points of the report include the idea that our lifestyle factors – the way we eat, the way we communicate and the way we handle life’s stressors have a profound impact on not just our health and general well being, but also that of our children.

I have never been keen on overscheduling my child. I want him to try different sports, as well as different art and cultural experiences, like every other parent. But I do not want him to be so overscheduled he cannot enjoy a playdate with a friend because he is too busy practicing his drums/paintings/flashcards etc.

My Solution: Schedule one less sport or after school activity for you kids. Schedule one less meeting for yourself each week. Use the time to have family conversations.

Create a little “margin” in your life.

The art of being present: how to overcome the culture of busy

Stop Taking Ourselves So Seriously

Not to get all existential on you, but really. In the scope of the universe our lives are pretty tiny. Your forgotten dentist appointment, or your child’s misbehavior at school, is not going to change the space-time continuum.

The world did not explode when I started admitting I have ADHD. In fact, the vast majority of people were pretty supportive.

My solution: Laugh more. Be yourself more. Admit your mistakes and flaws and then move on.

Start Using The Word No

The next time someone asks you to chair the PTO or take charge of selling the Girl Scout cookies, just say no.

I realize this is easier said than done. Maybe we should all practice by pretending we are 3 years old. No, I don’t want that piece of chocolate. No, I do not want to go to bed. NO! NO! NO!

Joking. Sort of. But I am promising myself here and now, the next time someone asks me to do something or show up somewhere, and I get that tight feeling in my stomach, I am going to say no. You should try it, too.

My Solution: Practice your no. Or simply say, “I’m not able to do that.” Don’t make excuses but be kind.

Get comfortable with yo’ bad self

I have had family members demand my presence for minor events. I know what that feels like, and I know how much resentment it stirs up in me. I get itchy when someone acts as if I have the power to make or break their plans.

But I no longer succumb to emotional manipulation. I would much rather politely explain that I like to meal prep and do laundry on Sunday – and then let them get mad if they want to.

The stress and resentment I feel if I do go will last a lot longer than their disappointment. They will get over it faster if I tell them ahead of time instead of just not showing up. Is that like ghosting? (If so, I am really good at ghosting.)

My Solution: Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you are using your “no” and being kind and respectful, people are going to have to get over it. As Brene Brown said, “Boundaried people are the kindest people.”

Cut Back on Technology

We cannot completely toss our phones. But we can sleep with them in a different room. We can also turn the ringer off.

I recommend cutting yourself off from technology about an hour before bed. You will sleep better if you don’t check your email. Trust me on this one.

I find that when I accidentally leave my phone at home I actually have a really good time. I feel more relaxed when I don’t have the urge to check Facebook or my email.

Getting unplugged is good for the soul.

My Solution: Try leaving your phone in a different room while you sleep. Start small if you need to, little 5 minute breaks from the phone. You might be surprised how little you miss it. (And how well you sleep with it out of your bedroom.)

I am not an expert on mindfulness or meditation. But I am something of an expert on living with ADHD and optimizing your function.

Being busy does not benefit anyone, and it is often harmful to our overall well being.

We all want the people we love to feel like we value them.Take the time to really be present in your life. Enjoy the people you care about and give them your full attention. They deserve it – and you deserve to feel less stressed and more connected.

What are your thoughts on the culture of busyness?

How does overscheduling affect your life?


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