Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

Just before Christmas, my husband and I had a free evening so we sat down and watched the movie classic, Shawshank Redemption.  Although I have seen this film several times before, this time, one phrase from Andy, the lead character and prison inmate, seemed to leap from the screen straight into my heart.  He said,

‘I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really.  Get busy living, or get busy dying‘.

To be honest, there have been many thoughts and activities consuming my time and energy over the past few years that have left me feeling empty and blah.  Of course, I’m not living in a prison cell, but some of my choices have been far from life-giving.  Since, this phrase has prompted a month of sincere personal reflection and emotional monitoring regarding the choices I’ve been making.

I’ve been asking myself daily…..When I do, or say this (insert activity), do I, or those around me…

  •   experience life, encouragement, hope, power or other ‘living’ attributes like love, joy or peace?
  • feel neutral, ambivalent or flat?
  •   experience a sense of sadness, jealousy, judgement, anger, discouragement or in some way feel drained of life?

Here are some of my personal findings.

Time spent with family, even if working through a conflict or challenging situation.

Time spent outdoors, even if it’s doing a task I don’t really enjoy like snow-blowing the driveway.

Spending more than 15 minutes on social media.  or at best

Saying no to an unnecessary purchase.

Randomly buying someone lunch.

Waking up and immediately thinking about all the things I have to get done today. 

Waking up and looking out the window for a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of nature before thinking of work. 

Turning to food in a moment of stress.

Venting to someone about my struggle (depending on who and what I shared).

Talking to God about my struggle.

When Andy, the prison inmate, uttered the words, ‘get busy living or get busy dying’ he was serving a life sentence for circumstances beyond his control.  The truth is – we cannot always control what happens to us, but even in limiting circumstances, we still have the incredible ability to choose.  And choice is such a powerful gift that can profoundly alter any given moment.   We can either get busy living or get busy dying!  And when we choose life-giving attitudes and behaviours despite what others are doing, courage, hope and power nourishes our soul which allows us to respond to others from a position of strength and vitality.

Since we only have one life to live, why not be ruthless with the choices that affect our well-being!  I’d encourage you to consider taking this experiment for yourself.  I’d love to hear your comments on the life-giving choices that have impacted your sense of well-being today!





One thought on “Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying

  1. Great blog Elaine… very genuine. I feel like I can relate to some of your recent discoveries. As I am researching alongside my dr for reasons for my unexplained low hemoglobin and also fatigue ( from long term cortisol aka strsss hormone release) I’ve started logging what things cause or trigger stress for me and it’s been incredibly insightful. Would love to have coffee with you and just chat as friends.

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