Active vs. Busy

After chatting with a friend about how I’m doing now that I’m back in America, she messaged me an article from the New York Times blog about the American tendency to stay busy. And it made me realize I haven’t written about this here yet.

I try to stay active. I don’t mean I try to stay fit and healthy by running a few miles each day – that’s my brother. No, I mean I try to stay active by staying involved with things, hanging out with friends, working on projects, learning, exploring, that kind of active.

On the other hand, I try not to stay busy.

Here’s how I distinguish between them. If someone asks me to do something, and I have to say no because of what I’m already doing, then I’m busy. But if someone asks me to do something, and I can say yes despite what I’m already doing, then I’m just active.

In other words, I don’t think “busy” (or even “too busy”) is an absolute term, even though we all have the same fixed amount of hours in each week. So while one person in a given situation might have to say no, another person in the same situation might be able to say yes. The difference between them then, between busy and active, comes down to whether or not they’ve peaked in what they’re able to do.

I try not to peak, even when I’m doing a ton of stuff. I try to stay active, not busy. I try to, “Always be available to say yes to more.”