Why I’m Eliminating the Word ‘Busy’ From My Vocabulary

A few weeks ago, I went to visit my holistic doctor in Santa Monica, Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, who also happens to be a dear friend and the HuffPost wellness editor. When I was at her office, she already had two patients in the rooms and I was waiting my turn. When she came out to greet me, I hugged her — a hug is a great way to start your session with your doctor — I said to her “Oh, you’re so busy!” In the most wonderful way, she said, “Not too busy for you! You know, I never like to use that word. It doesn’t mean anything to me. I live my life serving my patients as best as I can, giving everyone my full attention when they’re there. I encourage my patients to stop using that word as well, because it only makes you feel more overwhelmed and not in charge of your time.”

My experience with Dr. Patricia made me stop in my tracks. I said to her, “That is an amazing awareness for me — because I have a habit to use the word busy all the time, and I hear it from people every day.” When I ask people how they are, I so often receive the reply, “I’m soooooo busy!”

When we’re telling people that we’re busy, it’s like saying, “I’m talking to you, but I’m really not there.” Because you would never say to someone while you’re talking to them that you’re busy right now — because you’re talking to them. So busy is what happens in our head and not necessarily what is happening in the moment.

With Arianna’s new book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, which already hit #1 on The New York Times best-seller list, the message of how our society has glorified being busy, as if it’s a badge of honor, has really hit home with me. It is a collective cultural deficit. It’s not that we are not busy and we don’t have a lot to do, but it’s as if our whole selves — body, mind and spirit — are being wrapped up in our daily to-do list and we utterly lose perspective of the whole picture.

What is also wonderful about Dr. Patricia is that many times when I call her from my trips to talk to her, whether it is health-related or a personal matter, I never feel that she is overwhelmed or hurried. She always seems to be so present in her conversations — and when she has to go on to her next thing, she very graciously ends the conversation to move to what she needs to tend to next.

The way that Dr. Patricia behaves is a quality that I admire so much in people and I attempt to emulate. It’s as if people who operate that way seem to be in charge of their lives and in alignment with doing what they love to do. There is a sense of presence and calmness — and a certain joy in interacting with them.

I have started to course-correct and observe myself — especially when I get overwhelmed and start to go into that state of busyness. It is at that point that I need to put my devices down, or whatever else I’m doing — to breathe and exhale. I often find myself overwhelmed with the feeling of how would I get it all done? And often, if I’m tired, that feeling of overwhelm increases. As Arianna often says in her talks, “A good day starts the night before. Did I get enough sleep and did I get a good quality of sleep?”

I, too, am starting to practice all of the strategies of Thrive. What do I do to stay connected with myself? My doings, my conversations and interactions, even if they are very basic, such as being in the supermarket; getting a taxi; giving someone an address; depositing a check in the bank — I am present with myself and with the person I am interacting with. As my mother always used to say, “Don’t miss the moment.” It seems that’s all we really have — the moment! As this wave of mindfulness is being amplified in our culture, I wanted to bring to our attention how the use of words can actually send our brain signals of overwhelm.

Another phrase that people use a lot is “I’m crazzzzed!” What kind of a message are we giving ourselves when we are in the middle of our projects and we tell people it’s been crazy? Imagine the images the brain starts to form when you say you’re crazy. Your brain creates all sorts of chaotic images of things falling apart — the crazy kind of stuff!

Other phrases that we so often use to express how we are: it’s hectic; it’s insane; I haven’t had a moment to breathe; I haven’t had a moment to myself; it’s relentless, etc. When we use such phrases, we give ourselves signals of — to quote Thrive — time famine rather than time affluence. Yet we all know that time is a man-made concept.

So here are some of the words I have come up with to make me feel more time affluent: When people ask me for something and it is not a good time for me to engage, there are a few phrases I use:

“I can’t do that right now.”
“My plate is full for the next month.”
“My focus is handling xyz project at the moment, so there is not a lot of space and time to handle anything else.”

I find that when I use these phrases, I relax — and I feel weight lifted off my shoulders.

I was recently asked to record the audio of Arianna’s new book. When I came to reading the passage about time:

As physicist Paul Davies wrote in Scientific American, though most of us feel time is something that flows — always coming at us and then rushing behind us — that’s not actually what happens: ‘physicists prefer to think of time as laid out in its entirety — a timescape, analogous to a landscape — with all past and future events located there together. It is a notion sometimes referred to as block time.’ I love this because ‘block time’ helps me see the big picture — there is literally both no time and all the time in the world. (147)

As I was reading this, I stopped and teared up. I realized how pressured I often feel about the imaginary time constrictions of our culture and also the ones we impose on ourselves. When I was reading that passage — I realized there was a way out of the maze and the straightjacket that time puts us in. And that there is a creative way to step out of the boundaries of time — when we become fully aware that there is enough time to handle the essential things in our lives. One of my favorite quotes by Brian Andreas is “Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life.”

I remember when I was with my father in Greece during the last days of his life. I would sit there with him — comforting him, praying and really being present there with him. I had a real sense that there was no time — because there was just the precious, present moment that stopped all time. In life and death matters, that’s all there is — the present moment. I often try to recreate that time in my daily life where I lose track of the precious moment of life and overwhelm myself with my to-do list.

So here is a toast to eliminating the words: busy, hectic, crazy, insane, etc., from our vocabulary in describing how we are during our day and replacing them with statements that empower us, energize us and assist us in taking mental dominion over not being present.

And here’s to the end of glorification for our culture’s busyness, getting things done on little sleep, and feeling like we have to catch up with the race — because ultimately there is no race except for the one we assign ourselves to.

Share with me what other ways you found to substitute these ‘bad’ words that make us all feel overwhelmed. I would love to know and find new ways to support ourselves in not just succeeding, but thriving.

For more by Agapi Stassinopoulos, click here.

Visit Agapi’s website Unbindingtheheart.com.

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The Other B-Word I’m Eliminating From My Vocabulary

A few weeks ago, I went to visit my holistic doctor in Santa Monica, Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, who also happens to be a dear friend and the HuffPost wellness editor. When I was at her office, she already had two patients in the rooms and I was waiting my turn. When she came out to greet me, I hugged her — a hug is a great way to start your session with your doctor — I said to her “Oh, you’re so busy!” In the most wonderful way, she said, “Not too busy for you! You know, I never like to use that word. It doesn’t mean anything to me. I live my life serving my patients as best as I can, giving everyone my full attention when they’re there. I encourage my patients to stop using that word as well, because it only makes you feel more overwhelmed and not in charge of your time.”

AgapiThe Other B-Word I’m Eliminating From My Vocabulary
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How Embracing Your Sweetness Can Benefit Your Well-Being

“Make me sweet again, fragrant and fresh and wild, and thankful for any small gesture.” — Rumi

On a snowy day in New York City, I jumped into a cab and in a hurry asked the driver, “Please take me as fast as you can. I can’t be late for my appointment.”

The cab driver very kindly turned to me and said, “I’ll do my best, but your safety is more important to me than going fast.” He was an older man with such a kind presence that touched my heart.

On the window dividing us was a life achievement certificate for his service to his passengers. I was curious and asked him about it, and he said, “Driving in the city is a battlefield. It seems like everyone is out for themselves. You fight every day. But,” he went on, “I treat every passenger that comes as someone very valuable.”

We ended up chatting about the city, the people, and life. Before I knew it, we had arrived. I thanked him for the ride and tipped him generously.

“You are such a sweet lady,” he said to me, “Women in New York have become too much like men. I have daughters, and I say to them ‘Be sweet, don’t be like men.'” He turned to me, looked at me and said, “Don’t ever lose your sweetness.”

I shook his hand and told him he’d made my day, and he said, “You’ve made mine.” As he drove away, I teared up at this spontaneous and heartfelt exchange. Clearly, I had come across a very caring human being.

This encounter stirred up something in me that I have been wanting to write about. Why is it that we women start to loose touch with our sweetness and deny that part of ourselves?

When we are children we are innately filled with sweetness. As we grow up we are socially trained to replace that quality with a drive for achievement, and the need to belong starts to compromise who we are in our essence. Gradually, our sweetness is replaced by our external personas and the image we project in the world.

Even when we try to walk the spiritual path, our most devoted practices that lack sweetness can leave us dry like the dessert. Unless our heart is in any kind of spiritual practice, we can very well miss the point. A moment of loving and sweetness can help us connect back to ourselves.

Sweetness often gets a bad rap and is seen as a weakness. If a man is sweet, he is described as effeminate, and if a woman is sweet, she is deemed weak and not sexy. Well, I think sweetness is the new sexy. Consider how we cry at movies during scenes that touch the heart, but then emerge into our lives and tuck that emotion away so we can survive in our competitive world. After all no one puts on their resume “I preserved my sweetness” and is hired for it.

And yet, the fastest way to someone’s heart is to be sweet to them. Maybe the reason we all crave and love sweets is because we all crave to taste the sweetness of life…

It’s so important that we do not become bitter when we do not get what we want or because the men we marry turn out to be different from what we expected, or we have a bad breakup, or a job falls through. On the other hand, when we do get what we want and succeed, it is important that we do not become harsh, aggressive, and disconnected from our true nature of our feminine spirit in order to maintain that success.

Underneath all of our interactions lies the heart, which longs to be authentically seen, known, shared, welcomed, and accepted. There is nothing more intoxicating than the gift of an open heart and human warmth. These are the natural gifts that keep on giving, and there is a never ending well from which we can all draw. I think this is part of the reason people fall in love when they go to Greece — there is an outpouring of warmth and caring that you feel down to your bones.

When my dad was at the last phase of his life, I watched a man who I had known and loved, who had demonstrated the qualities of Zeus, Poisedon, and Hades, asserting his power with a volatile temperament, transform into a sweet and vulnerable man. But isn’t it a shame to wait until the end of your life to experience the sweetness that we all came into the world with? So share your sweetness to those you meet each day. By sharing your sweetness, you will inevitably attract it ten-fold. You’ll start to feel so abundant.

Don’t miss this moment by hurrying too quickly to get to the next thing and the next thing. What matters, and what makes us feel alive, is that we pause to savor the sweetness of life and of each other. Don’t hide it. As Rumi said, “Find the sweetness in your own heart, that you might find it in every heart.”

Share with me: How do you share your sweetness, and how can you experience more of it?

Visit me here at http://unbindingtheheart.com.

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Why You Need To Take A Sabbatical From Happiness

If you Google happiness, about 77,600,000 links pop up, many of which are meant to help make you a little bit happier. As far as books on happiness, the results are overwhelming. The longing for happiness seems to increase the more we search for it. We are all searching for the fairytale “happily ever after.”

But what is happiness? Isn’t happiness a feeling that takes over us when something positive happens in our lives? We become dependent on outer circumstances to make us feel good, and this is an incredibly tough position to base one’s well-being on. Life has its ups and downs, and we need to have the skills to navigate through them all.

I want to share with you some of the keys I have found that can help you unlock a feeling of lasting well-being.

The first is to reframe our concept of happiness. The Greek word for the state of happiness is “euphoria,” and the noun “euphoros” means the bearer of goodness. One of the fundamental elements to finding euphoria is to be that euphoros — bearer of goodness — for yourself and for others. This means radical generosity, starting with yourself.

If we see ourselves as the bearers of good, wherever we go we will create an atmosphere of goodness around us, and we will spread a sense of well-being to others. We will start to do good things for ourselves without thinking about it, and we will start having good thoughts about ourselves. We will experience positive emotions and produce positive outcomes because we will be connecting to our innate goodness. And from that place we will bring it to others.

It can be challenging, however, to hold onto this sense of goodness and sustain it throughout life’s transitions. When things happen that cause us stress, worry or anxiety, the tendency is to hold onto those feelings and make us question our goodness — even though in reality, it does not have anything to do with our circumstances.

The second key is to let go, as fast as you can, of any feelings that trap and suffocate you. Face them, name them, accept that they are happening and forgive them. As we name them, they start to get out of our way and our goodness shows up like a sunbeam.

I have identified seven patterns that cloud your sense of goodness. Take a look and try to identify which one(s) are standing in the way of experiencing your own sense of goodness.

1. Discouragement: When something negative happens in life, you go down the roller coaster of negative thoughts and feel bad about yourself. This blocks good things from happening to you.

2. Guilt: When we do something that we think we shouldn’t, and then we let it linger instead of forgiving and letting it go. (Again, blocking you from experiencing your own goodness.)

3. Comparisons to others: Thinking that those around us have a better life, and thus abandoning our own potential. (Nothing good can then happen to us that is “as good.”)

4. Making other people responsible for our happiness: (Feeling completely dependent and victimized.)

5. Feelings of unworthiness: (Blocking good things from happening to us, and attracting things that undermine our value.)

6. Judgements: We are our harshest critic and we never feel good enough.

7. Worrying about the future: We think the worst of the unknown future, which then causes us great unhappiness and robs us of the present.

These patterns all boil down to the basic feeling that we are not good. Each one of us must find the cause of this and uproot it. Where did it start? From a very young age, most of us are conditioned to find validation in how we measure in the world and our levels of achievement. We must learn to separate the two. Our goodness is our goodness, and what we do is what we do.

Become aware of what the recurring theme is that denies you that sense of goodness. We must take mental dominion over these negative unconscious patterns. As Pema Chodron says, “You are the sky. Everything else — it’s just the weather.” When we get hold of that reality, the light of our goodness will beam high and bright, and the lesser thoughts and patterns will not be able to sustain themselves.

So, let’s take a sabbatical from being happy or unhappy. Forget it! It’s putting too much pressure on ourselves, and making us very narcissistic and self-absorbed, which is definitely cutting off the circulation to our happiness.

Instead, practice focusing on being the bearer of goodness, regardless of the things you have or don’t have, or what happens or doesn’t happen to you. You will then become a magnet that attracts good things and people to your life.

In psychology, they say it takes 32 days to form a new habit. So start now. For 32 days, stop looking for happiness and instead run a tape inside your mind and heart that says “I AM the bearer of goodness.” Let that feeling fill you up to capacity. Go to bed affirming this knowledge and let it steep in. If you prefer, say it in Greek: “Ime Euphoros.” You never know, your subconscious might take to the sound of Greek!

You will attract good things into your life and you will most likely land into happiness without thinking about it.

It’s amazing what happens when you decide to be the bearer of your own goodness. You’ll start to experience that life is rigged in your favor. This, my dear friends, is the secret of the ages.

Please share with us your experience of connecting to your own goodness, and what patterns are showing up in your life that block your own sense of well-being.

AgapiWhy You Need To Take A Sabbatical From Happiness
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