“It’s OK to be busy, but not crazy busy!” said Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell, a leading expert in the study of human focus. Hallowell gave a riveting talk to an audience of about 300 on the topic, “Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap,” at Harker’s Nichols Hall as part of the Common Ground Speaker Series in late January.
A leading voice in American psychiatry, Hallowell had simple and practical strategies on how to handle a fast-paced life. He warned that living in a state of chronic brain overload increases toxic stress and can lead to an “F state” (frantic, frenzied, fluttered, forgetful and furious). Hallowell noted it is important to protect and preserve the “C state” (cool, calm, clear, consistent, curious and courteous). Based on brain psychology, when you enter the angry state, your brain becomes primitive. The greatest damage from being too busy is that it prevents people from setting their own temperatures, controlling their own lives, he added.
Hallowell addressed some of the key issues we face today: losing track of time while online; multitasking in today’s wired, Smartphone wielding culture which makes people feel busier than ever; parents fearing their children’s futures will be compromised if their children are not top-tier students, and thus spending large sums on tutoring; social disconnection and anonymity occurring when one doesn’t know neighbors but shares private information online.
Hallowell’s approach, rather than addressing task management, addresses how to focus and nurture our most valuable human assets: time, attention and mental energy. His strategies for handling the fast-paced life include knowing what matters most to you and performing a quantitative time analysis of daily activities to get rid of time leeches; spending time cultivating lilies (things that are worth it), but being wary of too many lilies (then they become leeches)!; spending time at the intersection of three spheres: what you are good at, what you enjoy doing and what adds value. Hallowell says curtail, delegate or eliminate the rest.
Hallowell concluded by saying personal connection predicts success and urged families to find ways to have fun together and create a positively connected environment. If you are busy doing what matters to you, then, busy is bliss!
For more information on upcoming common ground events, go to www.commongroundspeakerseries.org.
The Harker School is a member of Common Ground, a coalition of Bay Area schools working together to provide parent education to their communities. The coalition provides opportunities for parents to learn from experts in the fields of education and parenting, to share ideas with other parents, and to support each other’s efforts to enrich our school communities. This report was provided courtesy of Vidya Lakshmi Chari.