Posted by: Jamie Hahn | January 25, 2011

You have all the time in the world.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably sprinting through your week, hopping from task to task and commitment to commitment, crossing your fingers that you’ll get them done in the nick of time, relying on your techno-gadgets to buy you a few extra minutes (replying to emails in the airport or sending texts from the car), searching for meaning in those few extra minutes you’ve found but putting it off because you’re too busy and have a block of time next week for soul searching, reading blogs, connecting with other humans and animals when you can, trying to be a better person, untangling the mystery of life, going to the grocery store, getting food on the table, walking the dog, desperately looking forward to those few precious moments when you might be able to breathe deeply in the midst of it all, and then getting ready to take it all on again next week.

Sound familiar?

Most of us speed through our days in a dull haze of stress. I feel stressed that there’s no way I can get everything done. I feel stressed that the pile of unread books by the bed is getting taller and taller. I feel stressed that I want to learn so much and have so little time. I feel stressed that my bank account balance isn’t as high as it should be. I feel stressed that I missed my yoga class. I feel stressed that I feel stressed. It’s a terrible cycle.

So, how can we extricate ourselves from the great tide of our own expectations and to-do’s? For me, it’s a matter of shifting my perception of time. From our earliest years, we’re taught that everything important is scarce. If time is limited, it follows that we must cram as much into each moment as possible to ensure that we get the most out of life and that we’re as productive as possible. This view ensures that I approach my life and time with a feeling of stress and limitation.

But what if I assume that time is not scarce? What if I shift my perspective and assume that I have as much time as I need? In fact, what if I assume that nothing that I truly need is scarce, and that everything I need will appear at the appointed time? What if I assume that if I listen, I’ll be guided to what is truly significant and important for me? What if instead of spending time guarding my pile of amassed “stuff,” I focus on openness and trust in the abundance of life? What if I live within the mystery of the universe instead of constantly trying to solve it?  

This approach is the opposite of anything our culture teaches us. More speed. More productivity. More money. More stuff. These are the things our society values. But we don’t have to get stuck within the “Mentality of More.” Instead, we can step outside of that and smell the flowers. Literally. When was the last time you smelled the wildflowers on the side of the road? If you’re not worried about getting from point A to point B as fast as possible, then you might just stop when you notice the delicate beauty of a field of wildflowers. And you might be guided to write a poem about those brightly colored blooms waving in the summer breeze. And who knows, maybe that poem will catch the eye of a publisher, you’ll rocket to fame, and then you’ll be asked to become the Poet Laureate. Of course, in your infinite and enlightened wisdom, you’ll turn down the job because you have too many wildflowers to smell and poems to write.

So, just take this as a reminder to step outside of your normal way of thinking once in a while, especially when it relates to time. It’ll expand your reality, and it’s kind of fun. Even if you practice it just a few times a week, I bet you’ll notice a difference in the way you approach your days. I’ve been trying this lately, and it’s feels like a much more peaceful way to exist. Yes, there are still to-do lists and growing piles of books to read and people to see, but my thoughts about them aren’t stressful. When I’m in this place, I don’t feel the need to jump from one thing to the next in a frenzied attempt to “do it all.” I pick one thing and do it well. And this frees my mind to be in a place of peace, which inevitably leads to more productive, positive, and peaceful thoughts. This is a cycle I don’t mind repeating.

I’d love to hear your take on time. Does this approach work for you?

________________________

Clock Photo from Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wild Flower Photo from Keattikorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Responses

  1. This totally resonates with me, Jamie. Over the past two years, the economy’s clubbing of my business has actually forced me to “smell the roses.”And you know what? Despite having “less stuff” and less money, I truly think I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Because I’ve slowed down. The ‘normal’ me is thinking I should be stressed out due to the economic situation, but the ‘living’ me is enjoying it, embracing it. I love the rethinking of time. Love it! Great post. Beautifully written.

    • Thanks, Melissa. What a great story — that’s an awesome silver lining! It’s amazing how much we have to fight our typical thoughts and assumptions about everything. I’m so glad the ‘living’ you is enjoying and embracing life despite the economy. That’s how it should be! I like that term — “the living me.” Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jamie, I found this so true and familiar. I don’t have time to have a personal blog, but I like to express myself on others’ blogs now and then 🙂
    Being a full-time working Mom, I never stop running from a task to a chore and vice-versa. When the day at work is done, another “day” is waiting for me home : kid to pick up at school, kid to change his clothes, dinner to make, laundry machine to start, family to feed, house to clean (well, sort of…), kid to play with, kid to give his bath (okay, tonight I decided his Dad would do that), kid to put in bed, laundry to put on the rack, food to fix for the next day at work, breakfasts to fix (I prefer to sleep longer in the mornings)… then patatra! it’s 9:30 pm? Okaaay I go to bed around 10:15. Less than an hour to read/answer whatever email, blog, tweet AND continue to write the damned chapter I started months ago. Because the pile of books to read, it’s okay, I do that in the train while going to my work and back home. Anyway.
    I discovered a long time ago I had the “power” to control my own time. If I know it will be a rough day, I wake up, look at my watch and think “Time, go faster!”. Same if I want time to go slower. It’s just psychological, but it works for me.
    I learnt also the “one task at a time” thing. Especially at work. Oh, there are 3 lines waiting behind while I’m on the phone? NO panic! I take MY time, focuse on a task after another. They wait or my brain is out of power.
    My theory is, our time is limited, anyway. We don’t know if tomorrow will wake up or not. As we can die at any moment and what isn’t done will be done by someone else, running after tasks to get done seems suddenly futile.
    So to you all, be like Jamie. Stop and take time to smell the flowers. It’s worth to do it.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Cossana. I love the idea of the power to control time. I think we do have that power. Your schedule sounds even busier than mine, but it seems like you’re handling it with grace and a good attitude. Sometimes that all we have! Glad you stopped by. 🙂

  3. I’ve been really stressed about time lately — especially as it’s recently hit me how my kids are growing up. And I’m not ready for it yet! 😦 And the thing that has stressed me the most is that I feel I haven’t taken the time to enjoy with them while they are young. But it’s not too late. And time is a perspective of the mind.

    Thanks for the reminder, Jamie!

    • It’s definitely never too late! It’s so easy to miss the important stuff as we put our heads down and plow through our daily routines, but it definitely doesn’t have to be that way. I’m glad the reminder was helpful. I need to remind myself just about every minute of the day!

      Thanks for your comment, Susan!

  4. Here was my take on 12/31/10…

    http://existingwithintention.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/watches-calendars/

  5. “Time is a perspective of the mind.” I love that. It’s true. I’ll wager that when we’re in the place Jamie describes, we can “bend” time, so it doesn’t feel like an enemy.

    I’ve made it a practice for years, even when I worked long hours, to always take time for lunch and always read quietly before going to bed. My husband and I take nature walks at least once a week. Those strategies have saved my sanity! 😉


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