9173784342_9a3690113e_zWe all have the same 24 hours in a day.  Consciously or unconsciously, we make the choice about what’s important to us by how we spend our time.

If someone consistently spends 70+ hours a week at their work, while they may do well in their career, it would hardly be surprising when their marriage suffers or that they are stressed and unhappy in other areas of life.  A person may not feel as if they have much choice with mortgage, insurance, and car bills rolling in non-stop.  However, ultimately, it is a choice we all have to devote the time and effort required to support a certain lifestyle at the expense of other things.

There is always a trade-off. An alternative would be to choose a simpler, less expensive lifestyle which may not be as impressive by societal standards, but which allows the person to work less, feel less stressed, spend more time with family and pursue other things which they enjoy.  It IS a choice.

Similarly, if someone comes home from work and plops down on the sofa in front of the TV with a bag of chips, this too is a choice to invest one’s time in a way which may show up as negative health consequences later.  Someone choosing to use their time to exercise, meditate, read, paint or cook a healthy meal is creating a different life.  They’re making a choice, even if it’s not a conscious one. Your life is the culmination of your many, every day, seemingly insignificant choices.

In the movie In Time, the currency of the world is time, rather than money.  Everyone stops physically aging at 25 years old and can live infinitely as long as they can afford it.  People are paid in time and bank time.  Everything from a cup of coffee to gas costs time. When someone runs out of time, they die.  The rich can live forever.  While the movie didn’t get very good reviews, I enjoyed it and thought the basic concept was interesting.  While our society does operate on money, I would argue that the cost of money is time, unless you win the lottery or get a big inheritance.  Hence, the underlying cost is always time.

After my brain injury, resulting from a suicide attempt, I woke up from a coma in the hospital with no awareness of time.  Despite the window to the left of my bed, I had no concept of night and day either.  In the hospital, with the glaring fluorescent lights and the blinds closed, there was no night or day, and with my mind not fully engaged, time didn’t even exist.  Although I did have a vague muddled concept of the past and future, I existed entirely in the present.  It was always right now.

Being brain injured taught me how to live in the moment and changed my relationship with time. As my brain healed, I gradually came back into and experienced the common phenomenon of time with all of its stress and demands.  However, I was now aware that these were created in my mind.  Through mindfulness, I worked on preserving my ability to be in the present moment.   (See blog: All Right Right Now)

Believe it or not, I kind of miss my severely brain injured days in which I was totally unaware of anything but the present moment because I had the feelings and wonder of being a carefree kid again.

In an article, Change Your Sense of Time, Deepak Chopra says that the best use of time reconnects a person with their being while a misuse of time does the opposite moving a person further away from their being.  He suggests that changing your relationship with time can change your reality.

Now, I consider my time to be my most valuable asset.  Everything I do has to be worth it to me in terms of my time investment, and I’m amazed at all that I can accomplish purposefully choosing how to use my time.  By consciously making these choices, every minute of every day, I’m creating my life.  Present and future.

Steve Jobs in a 2005 speech to Stanford graduates had this to say about time:

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

How and where you invest your time IS a choice.  Choose wisely.

image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/

11 Comments

  1. Great post. When life brought me to my knees the last time and I came close to giving in I finally realized that pursuing the “life” I was was no longer functional and gave up all the stress nad drama associated with it. Time faded and I was able to live life as a child in complete wonder of things going on around me that I had long forgotten existed. I never want to go back to that earlier me. This is wsay to much fun.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      I hear ya, Tony! I have drastically reduced and simplified my lifestyle. I do not have near as impressive “stuff”, but I am happier than ever. I am trying to impart this to my children, but I am not sure I am having much luck. I guess, like us, they have to learn this for themselves.

  2. Debbie,
    I haven’t seen this film but, now thanks to your fascinating review – I’d really like to.

    I’ve recently been reviewing my own relationship with time and how it affects me. I’ve had a few of those wonderful moments of satori in my life where I was connected to the “All” and time stopped. How magnificent! I wished it could go on forever!

    What synchronicity to read your article today. I’m going to check out Deepaks article too.
    Thank you. Hope you’re well,
    Angela

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Hi, Angela! Our relationship with time, our attitude about it, how we use it and value it can really change our every day existence, I have found. Most people usually think nothing of this, but it is yet one of the tools we have with which to shape our worlds.

      I found the concept of the movie fascinating and enjoyed it from that perspective.

  3. Now that I’ve chosen to work fewer hours and live on less money, I do have more time and less of the bad kinds of stress, and it has helped me be more “in the moment” at all times. That trading time for money thing, I’ve never understood it very well. I’m not what one would call professionally ambitious. I’ll have to look up that film. I’ve never heard of it! Thanks, Debbie.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Welcome back! Ambition and success should not be defined by financial gains, but, unfortunately, it most often is in our society. I tell my kids to shoot for being happy. That IS success.

  4. Judy M. Hampton Reply

    Great post, darling daughter, and as always, wonderfully wise words to be taken to heart. Love, Mom

  5. Bret McLaughlin Reply

    Debbie, please forgive me for crashing your blog (this is the second article I’m commenting on). Your entries are so marvelously deep and well-written!

    I’ve tried to practice mindfulness and found it really tough! It’s like trying to stay motionless in the middle of a raging river – where it sound straightforward, but it’s so much easier to let the current carry you endlessly onward.

    On a related note, I’ve been pondering time a lot lately, and trying to answer a very specific question about time. Neither my physics nor philosopher friends seem to know — so I will ask you, Debbie: Do you think that the moments of time are temporary or permanent?

    In other words, are these fleeting moments permanently, universally gone one they pass? Or are they indelibly recorded in the fabric of the universe, but we’re just not THERE any longer — we’re now HERE (in the present)?

    Maybe, as most people seem to tell me, it’s a pointless distinction: For all intents and purposes, they’re gone. And that’s true. But somehow I find myself hoping that the moments remain, even if we can never return to them. What do you think?

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Bret, your question presupposes that time is a linear phenomenon which we move through. In your question, once a moment is past it is assumed to be gone.

      I would propose that this is not the case at all. The latest quantum physics research is showing that time can move forward, backward, and even bend. Wild! I know. For more information on this: https://www.deepakchopra.com/blog/view/525/in_physics_the_arrow_of_time_gets_bent

      Deepak Chopra has a lot of interesting information on the “arrow of time” out there that will get you to thinking!

      After reading some of this kind of info, I visualized myself in the emergency room right after my brain injury and sent myself healing, loving energy. Who is to say that I did not survive and recover fully (against predictions) because I did this now which had an effect then? Hmmmmm….

  6. Jeez Debbie, I thought my question was deep, but your response was just that much deeper.

    I’ll certainly be reading up on that link, bur for now I’m pleased at what I think you’ve implied: that on some level the moments persist even when we’re no longer experiencing them (hence the prospect of you sending yourself positive energy from the future, which wouldn’t be possible if your time in the hospital vanished into nothingness after those moments had passed).

    Thanks again for your insightful response!

  7. Complimenti per l’articolo, davvero interessante, spero tu possa pubblicare altre informazioni così interessanti in futuro, tornerò presto a leggerti. Buona giornata

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