Does being busy turn you into a bastard?

It seems to be increasingly normal, when you ask people how they are, for them to simply say ‘busy’. Certain people regularly tell me things are ‘manic!’ They usually say it like it’s a good thing. Maybe it makes them feel important – in demand.

But have you ever considered that that feeling of being under time pressure, behind where you want to be and running to catch up, actually makes you a bit of bastard?!

I recently went to a talk about factors that affect ethical behaviour. The conclusion of one study cited is that the more of a hurry you are in, the less likely you are to help someone in need.

In ‘The Good Samaritan Experiment’, people were given some tasks to do and were then told they needed to go to another building to finish them. On the way to the building they passed a man (an actor) slumped on the floor, groaning.

The first group were told they had plenty of time to get to the next building, the second had only a few minutes and the third were told they were running late.

The results were that in the first group 63% of people stopped to see if the person was OK, in the second it went down to 45% and in the group running late only 10% of people made any attempt to help the victim. Some literally stepped over them on the way to the next building!

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I’m certainly aware that when I feel busy I’m less likely to answer the phone to my mum, offer to make other people in the office a cup of tea or be prepared to listen to someone’s response when I ask how they are. I just want to quickly exchange pleasantries and hurry along.

When I do feel like I’ve got time, I enjoy rather than feel held up by such casual conversations. I feel I can be more generous with my time and my actions. I have a desire to connect with the people around me rather than shut them out.

Meditation is the most affective way I’ve ever found of feeling less busy. Ironically, by far the most common reason people say they haven’t been meditating is being ‘too busy’. Not only is it important for you own sanity to slow down, but this experiment suggests you’ve got a responsibility to everyone to do so. Even the people you don’t even know.

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