Once upon a time Jesus decided to come back to visit Earth.
So he strolls up to the Vatican and is standing in the courtyard, kind of looking around.
One of the Cardinals sees him, and runs to tell the Pope.
“Father!” he cries, rushing inside in a panic.
“Yes, my son, what is it?” The Pope asks.
“Jesus! He has returned!”
“What do you mean?” The puzzled pope asks.
“He’s outside! In the courtyard! What shall we do?” the cardinal desperately asks. The pope thinks about it, then looks up.
“Tell everybody to look busy!”
Everybody has the experience of sitting around when you’re supposed to be working.
And the boss shows up, and you suddenly pretend you were just finishing something, or were just about to do something REALLY important.
This is normal behavior, and it happens all the time.
But when it’s unhelpful is when we are tricking OURSELVES that we are busy.
Sometimes we do this to avoid doing unpleasant things.
Maybe you’d planned on doing your taxes, but suddenly your daughter needs help with her homework, and you’re than willing to help all day if that’s what she needs.
Sometimes we do things that we THINK is “progress,” but it’s really just busy work.
Perhaps you’ve been wanting to write a novel.
But instead of sitting down and actually writing, you’re doing “research.”
You may even tell people you’re a writer, but you are still in the “planning stages.”
Of course, planning is absolutely necessary.
But things like that are VERY EASY to stretch out.
Sometimes for YEARS.
Which means it’s very EASY to trick ourselves we are “on purpose,” that we’re living an extraordinary life.
But all too often, the things we do are really the same things we’ve always done.
We just somehow redefine them.
So instead of wasting time online, we’re doing “research.”
Or instead of dreaming about what it would be like to actually finish a degree, we’re “investigating online classes.”
Or instead of window shopping on Amazon, we’re “choosing the right equipment for our exercise plan.”
Redefining events is a very good skill.
Like all of our mental skills, we can use them to get ahead, for example reframing a “failure” as valuable experience that can help you do better next time.
Or we can use them to stay in our comfort zone, when we pretend we’re researching the best running shoes, but we’re really just browsing Amazon while watching TV.
How do you know the difference?
Figure out a way to keep score.
Objective score, that is observable from your behavior, not your thinking.
Imagine angels are watching you, and they can only see your behavior, not your thoughts.
And the more your behavior moves you forward, the more they’ll help you.
This metaphor can help you move forward, instead of just pretending.