Posted by: Corina Paraschiv | December 2, 2008

Busy, happy?

In my everyday life, I often feel overwhelmed with the amount of things I have to do.  And yet I am never quite fulfilled doing “nothing”.  What is a “balanced life” for a gifted mind?  I am not sure I follow the argument that leading a balanced life is necessarily doing less.  So let’s investigate together what it might entail.

Fear of the unknown
We love to be in control.  And so we sometimes tend to do the same things we’re used to doing without questioning them.  It is a little like that with the concept of “doing something”; one of the reasons we may be scared of doing nothing may be because we just don’t know – if we wouldn’t be doing “something”, then what would it feel like?  By embracing ambiguity and the unknown, it can help.  It doesn’t mean doing nothing will suit you but be open to exploring new (uncomfortable) sensations to find what really makes your happiness.

What if…?
In the same vein as the fear of “doing nothing”, I’d add the fact often when we consider doing things in a new way, we ask ourselves what if [things don’t work out, a catastrophe errupts, etc.]  – and our friends and family can fuel to our anxiety by asking us other “what ifs”.  But did you ever notice no one ever asks you “what if this might turn out to work absolutely fantastically well?” “what if it’s your dream-come-true?”.  Don’t focus on the negative when you’re trying to re-arrange your way of life – ask yourself what if things can actually work out well.

Being busy is not being productive, nor important.
Be sensitive to the reasons you have of accepting to do something – if you are taking on tasks to feel important, or because you think you are achieving more, take five minutes to realize whether it really does make you an important person or a productive one.

Find your own rhythm
As a gifted especially, you may live your life with more intensity than most people.  Therefore, you should consider what your own rhythm of life and pace is or should be.  There is a great deal out there to follow pre-established models of how a balanced life should be like.  Let me just say this : if you ran into a burnout or a depression of some kind, did you learn something from it and are you finding new ways to approach the issue of time-management?  Because of your passions for different things, it may not suit you to just quit a large amount of things and be happy just staying home.  Different people have different needs – figure out what your needs are.  You don’t have to fall into depression or burnouts to know what isn’t good : anything that gets you too uncomfortable, too overwhealmed and too unhappy is not good for you.  Don’t try to compare it to society’s rhythm – march to your own beat.

Make Choices
I think the first thing my boyfriend learned about me is I can dread choices.  I stare at menus at the restaurant forever before I pick something because I want five different things at the same time.  My schedule suffers from the same plague – for instance next Wenesday all at the same time I have the choice between going to the Nutcracker, going to a spa, or going to a Christmas potluck party – all of those which cannot be moved to another date.  And the whole process of making a choice is extremely stressful for me – so stressful in fact that I’d have considered doing all three in the same day just to avoid making a deicision.  And it IS stressful – specially if you have a lot of abilities and interests and energy, it’s hard to limit yourself.  But that’s when this advice comes in; make choices and here’s how:

(1) ask yourself whether you really feel comfortable with doing everything on your schedule (if you find you are running late consistently add time to go from one meeting to another and cut an activity to account for that time – running between activities makes you enjoy them less)

(2)  chose quality over quantity – realize you can never do everything at once.  Another way for you to look at this which really helps is you can always do everything, but not at the same time.  So consider the fact some things will eventually happen again maybe not in the exact same format, but that you haven’t lost the event of a lifetime by turning down an invitation or activity.

(3)  focus on the great things that your choice will bring you.  Remind yourself of how much less stress you will have on the day of the activity thanks to your choice now, and vizualize how much fun you’ll have.

(4)  Trust your guts – yes you physically CAN do everything but mentally it’ll wear you out.  So listen to that little voice of doubt when you see a schedule that’s a tad too full when you pick

(5)  Be careful volunteering, and learn to say no.  Don’t give in to pressure – ask yourself everytime if YOU really want to be doing this or if SOMEONE ELSE really wants you to do this.  Occasionally you can give in to someone else if they really need you help and you love them and feel happy helping them but in the context of an organization, a teamwork or any personal situation where you are prone to doing things out of pressure which you don’t REALLY want to be doing — just say no.  It’s very stressful to have to do something you don’t want to be doing – you might as well deal with the stress of saying no but then enjoy something you like instead.  It’s your free time – it’s your right to manage it the way you see best fit.

Find your passion
It is a myth to believe any kind of intense activity must be a pain.  If you have a whole lot of energy to spend and your mind and body are full of things to give out, then I think you should go for it — find a passion and give yourself to it.  When it’s a passion, then it’s a hobby, it’s no longer work.  You get in the flow and feel great about it.  If you feel overwhealmed it is probably because you got into doing some things that just don’t really appeal to you.  So think your priorities again.

Do something meaningful
Doing something meaningful can also help boost your hapiness.  Part of being unhappy and stressed over the healthy living style may come from the fact you aren’t doing somethign that really means anything to you.  In purpose there is joy.

The grass is not always greener on the other side…
I hear many people argue that if they were not in North America they could suddenly live better, healthier, more balanced lives.  First moving somewhere else might get you rid of this particular concern (even then I am unsure) but it will bring its own problems – moving isn’t necessarly a road to happiness if you cannot work on yourself and your issues from within.  Second, these people are victims when they could be in charge of their own lives – reality is what it is, try to be proactive and find tactics and ways to achieve a healthy life within the constraints of society.  There are a great deal of things you can do to change your own life – happiness is a matter of attitude more than of circumstances.

I have limits, but I have dreams.  Limits enclose me in something small, they imprison me.  Try to think instead of the things you dream of doing or being and follow that.  It will make you grow and help you find happiness.



  1. i understand much of what’s said here. only, i feel i’ve met my goals in life and am satisfied to just chill with them not but i am so freaking bored silly and restless, i don’t have a “chill mechanism” it just isn’t what i’m used to doing.

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