What Does “Get Busy Living” Mean to You?

When I was thinking of what to call my blog one of the inspirations came from The Shawshank Redemption, a movie I have seen countless times. If you have never seen the movie, stop reading now, slap yourself silly with a dirty sock and go rent the movie right now. You deserve it.

Andy Dufresne is in living hell. Wrongly accused of murder and sent to prison. No matter how close he is to freeing his name, there’s people stopping him. Andy, though, is a different man than anyone in there. His willpower was unbelievable.

Before he’s ready to break out he tells Red the famous line “get busy living or get busy dying”. He sure did after that.

The movie can mirror your current situation. Life can feel like a prison with invisible bars holding you back and dreaming of the time you’re released. It’s your Shawshank and you don’t even know you’re in it.

Let’s take a closer look.

The story of his escape is a metaphor for your life. He’s trapped in prison and wrongfully there. Don’t you feel like it’s not your fault you’re in the situation you’re in? There’s people and circumstances in your life screwed everything up. There are extenuating circumstances that keep you there. Nothing is your fault right? Here is the reality. You take all the blame.

He finds the answer to his freedom but the warden tells him he’s crazy and ends up killing the man who can testify his innocence. In your life, you may have a dream that you want to pursue but there’s people there to tell you how ridiculous it sounds and how you need to face reality. Those people are your warden. They are plain evil. It’s worse when it’s someone close to you.

Andy doesn’t give up. He’s devised a plan to dig his way out. Who knows if he knew where it would lead but he just started digging. The best way to start your escape is to just do it. Take action. Don’t listen to the ugly people. Follow your passion or dreams. If you want to sail around the world, call the barrier ropes suppliers, pack your swimsuit and go! If you have to do it while working a full time job, find extra time in the morning or at night. You just might run into a dead end but you might find another direction to start digging. As long as you’re always digging, you are making progress. The other alternative is to sit on the cold metal bed and do nothing. Which is better?

Andy could have easily quit digging. Imagine using a spoon to dig out all that dirt and then smuggling it little by little to the courtyard. Any lesser man would have quit. He could have gone back to his cell and lived a life as a prisoner. When you’re trying to work towards your goals, you will want to give up. It’s bound to happen. No one ever said success is smooth sailing. How you deal with that determines your fate. Do you move on or do you go back to your cell and keep dreaming about freedom?

Even though he’s dug the hole to the sewer, he has to crawl through raw sewage for miles to get to real freedom. This goes back to obstacles standing in your way. The road to success isn’t like a Slip-n-slide. There will be crap to crawl through which seems like it will never end. Few will crawl through the crap while many won’t even try. Who do you want to be?

In the end, all the planning, determination, motivation, and hard work paid off. He’s made it to Zihuatanejo where it’s paradise everyday. Where is your paradise and are you willing to work as hard and as long as him?

The turning point in the movie was when he said that famous line to Red played by Morgan Freeman. So I ask you…

What does get busy living mean to you? Here are some meanings I came up with while brainstorming.

  • Does it mean start living your life how you dream it to be now?
  • Does it mean carpe diem?
  • Does it mean pursuing what you love instead of what pays the rent?
  • Does it mean don’t wait you’re 65 to retire and do all the things you’ve been waiting to do in life?
  • Does it mean focus on the current day and don’t worry about the past or the future? Does it mean if you’re not doing things that excite you in life, you’re just one day closer to death?
  • Does it mean following your passion?
  • Does it mean generate passive income so you have more time to do what you love?
  • Does it mean only working on projects you want to do instead of being told to?
  • Does it mean taking less pay but having more free time?
  • Does it mean starting that weight loss program so you’re not one step closer to high blood pressure or a heart attack?
  • Does it mean just living in the moment and appreciating the gift of life that you have?

How do you interpret get busy living? What are you doing to get busy living? Of course there is no wrong answer. Everyone has a different idea.

To sum up everything I wrote, just take on sentence from this if nothing else.

Are you truly living life or just waiting to die?

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27 responses to What Does “Get Busy Living” Mean to You?

  1. You should see “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey 🙂

  2. Benny,
    It’s funny becasue I am in the process of writing an article almost exactly like this. I have the same photo as well!!

    I love this movie for so many reasons and it realls gets us thinking about our lives anf the time we have.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    • I think that’s why the movie is still so popular to this day. It’s the message of the movie. It’s about getting off your butt and doing something.

      I love your blog. The design of it is awesome! Thanks for the comment Steve.

  3. Great way to sum it up Benny. If you’re not living, you’re dying – so get busy living! Makes perfect sense! 🙂

    Cheers buddy,


    • Thanks fellow Triberr! It’s something we should all keep in the back of our minds. 🙂

  4. Hey Benny,

    I loved the The Shawshank Redemption. Great movie and I 2nd that. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must…

    Well, what do I have to offer to what you have already given us. I would say I’m a little different with the way I think mainly because my Dad had cancer for 42 years of my life so I saw children suffer from it, friends he had made pass from it and others struggle with sickness. I’ve seen a lot of death in my life so I learned early on to live each day as if it were your last. Stop complaining about the small stuff because they really just don’t matter. If you want something to be different, it’s up to you to change ir. So that’s how I live my life and have for a very long time. I live in the present moment and am just blessed I’m alive and able to do half of the things most people can’t do.

    You bet I’m truly living my friend and I highly recommend it to everyone.

    Thanks for this post, loved it!


    • I could sense the passion for life in your writing. Yes there are too many people complaining about the small stuff. Ridiculous stuff that makes me shake my head. Being around death does give people a different perspective on life for sure. Glad you have realized it because there are some too that still don’t understand how precious life is, even when faced with death or surround by it.

      Awesome comment and thank you!!

  5. Benny,

    Very insightful post. It’s great to mirror real life problems and situations after movies because so many of us are fascinated by them.

    I think the best part of your post, for me, is the simple line of “The best way to start your escape is to just do it. Take action.”

    It’s so easy to think and talk about the life you want and the things you want to do, but doing it is another story. I spent months and months planning with little action.

    Sometimes we just need to step out and try things without making sure everything is lined up perfectly.

    Here’s to living!


    • Movies can definitely inspire us in life. It sends a message across a medium viewed by millions of people!

      I am not the best at jumping into action but I definitely am much better now than before. I spent way too long in analysis paralysis that I waited too long to get started. I won’t make that mistake again moving forward. And yes my problem was too was worrying about doing it perfectly. In reality the journey is NOT going to be perfect but it will come down to how bad do I want it?

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. Awesome allusions. I love the movie Shahshank Redemption but your post really inspires me to take live by the horns

  7. Great post as always, Benny. It reminds me of the quote from Braveheart. “Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” I’m taking this to heart, man. Better get busy, then! 😉

    • Thanks Kevin. Always appreciate to hear what you have to say. I do like that Braveheart quote.

  8. Shawshank is a great movie and has been in my dvd collection for a long time. Get busy living is a great title! I used to sit around doing nothing after work or on the weekends and I wasn’t happy and didn’t feel like I was going anywhere. After I went through a quarter life crisis I hustled to find my current jobs which I love and every day is such a joy now and I count my blessings every day. Best of luck with your projects! I think I’m gonna go grab Shawshank and some popcorn now, love that movie! -Sydney

    • I love that name. Sydney. Have you ever been to your namesake?

      I’m in a job I can’t stand right now and for the longest time I would do nothing after work or on the weekends like you. I would watch TV or aimless surf the internet to forget about how miserable my job is. I’m still there but now I’m taking action and planning my prison break. I wish I realized, when I was 25, all this knowledge I have now at 33. However it’s never too late to start.

      Thanks so much for commenting! I will definitely see what’s going on at Untempler.

      • Benny,

        I’ve never seen the Shawshank Redemption movie but I would always hear co-workers talk about how their workplace has become Shawshank.

        After reading this post, I think I should watch it.

        I don’t want to say this publicly, but I’d say it anyway: we’re on the same boat – never too late to start. Yes, indeed!

        • It’s never too late to watch Shawshank. Not only does it have a great message but it’s an overall great movie. Yes it’s never too late to start for sure! Where do you work if I may ask?

  9. I loved this article as it is what I was just talking about yesterday. It was a huge release I had from the brainwashing of when I was a child. I realized that I had to let go of the attachment to the outcome and that was the money. I simply needed to start creating my own character and start creating my own world. It was an ahha moment of something I already knew, but had not been able to let it go. The pay the bills mundane thought. I watched the movie with Neale Donald Walsh with Conversations with God. This is what I learned. I needed to Make a life not make a living. So that is what I have been doing for the past week and it feels great. Thank you for your inspiration.

  10. Jennifer with @TwoYearsOff June 14, 2011 at 2:22 am

    I love what you’ve named your site! Shawshank Redemption is my all-time favorite movie; I can probably quote it in my sleep. The moment I saw the name of your blog, I knew it was a reference to Shawshank and I had to come here.
    For my husband and I, “Get Busy Living” means we are quitting our jobs at the end of this summer and backpacking the world for about 2 years (or until we have kids). We’re in our late 20s, and with some of our extended family experiencing health-related issues recently, it seems that there is absolutely no better time for us to take these next 2 years to live our dream and travel. Life is not a guarantee no matter how old or healthy you are.
    Really enjoying your site!

    • Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for coming by for the first time. I love that movie too.

      That’s amazing! Backpacking for 2 years around the world. That’s a trip of a lifetime. I noticed you don’t have a blog. Do you think you’ll be starting one to chronicle your trip? I’d love to follow along for sure. I’d love to learn you plans for the trip, places you’ll be going, and what do your friends and family think about this.

      I’m so happy to hear you’re taking this opportunity to do this!! Thanks so much for commenting!

      • Jennifer with @TwoYearsOff June 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm

        We’re working on our photo blog and will hopefully have it up and running by before we leave in August. Tentatively, we’re looking to do about 5 months in South America, 10 months in Asia, and 10 months in Europe. But that’s very tentative and we’re trying to leave things open for change. We recently told our families; they think we’re crazy, but are happy for us and agree that there’s no better time to do this than now.
        Thanks for following us! Looking forward to reading your tweets and posts as well. 🙂

  11. Benny, I read most of your posts along with many others. I have terminal malignant melanoma and 4 of us are being honored for our courage in figting this disease. Almost immediately I thought of the line from Shawshank which has already been mentioned and this applies to the 4 of us. I will represent our group in front of about 400 doctors on this Thursday night and I will be using this line in my concluding comments. Yes, movies do have an impact on all of us.

    • Hi Terry, thank you for letting me know. YOU are an inspiration and a true fighter. My thoughts are with you and thank you for sharing your message to be courageous in life.

  12. IMHO……if you have to ask yourself……”what does get busy living mean?” you are not “living”.
    There is no joy without work. Be loyal to your friends. Do what you love and do whatever you can to help others.
    Boredom is a choice. And so is giving up.

  13. Shirley Druyeh June 9, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    This is a fantastic article. Thank you.

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