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Should We Spend Time Like Money?

--by Stefan Klein (Mar 31, 2014)


Benjamin Franklin once said: time is money.  He meant this only as a gentle reminder not to "sit idle" for half the day. He might be dismayed if he could see how literally, and self-destructively, we take his metaphor today. Our society is obsessed as never before with making every single minute count. People even apply the language of banking: We speak of “having” and “saving” and “investing” and “wasting” it.

But the quest to spend time the way we do money is doomed to failure, because the time we experience bears little relation to time as read on a clock. The brain creates its own time, and it is this inner time, not clock time, that guides our actions. In the space of an hour, we can accomplish a great deal -- or very little.

Inner time is linked to activity. When we do nothing, and nothing happens around us, we’re unable to track time. In 1962, Michel Siffre, a French geologist, confined himself in a dark cave and discovered that he lost his sense of time. Emerging after what he had calculated were 45 days, he was startled to find that a full 61 days had elapsed.

To measure time, the brain uses circuits that are designed to monitor physical movement. Neuroscientists have observed this phenomenon using computer-assisted functional magnetic resonance imaging tomography. When subjects are asked to indicate the time it takes to view a series of pictures, heightened activity is measured in the centers that control muscular movement, primarily the cerebellum, the basal ganglia and the supplementary motor area. That explains why inner time can run faster or slower depending upon how we move our bodies — as any Tai Chi master knows.

The brain’s inclination to distort time is one reason we so often feel we have too little of it. One in three Americans feels rushed all the time, according to one survey. Even the cleverest use of time-management techniques is powerless to augment the sum of minutes in our life (some 52 million, optimistically assuming a life expectancy of 100 years), so we squeeze as much as we can into each one.

Believing time is money to lose, we perceive our shortage of time as stressful. Thus, our fight-or-flight instinct is engaged, and the regions of the brain we use to calmly and sensibly plan our time get switched off. We become fidgety, erratic and rash.

Tasks take longer. We make mistakes — which take still more time to iron out. Who among us has not been locked out of an apartment or lost a wallet when in a great hurry? The perceived lack of time becomes real: We are not stressed because we have no time, but rather, we have no time because we are stressed.

--Stefan Klein, translated by Shelley Frisch


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On Apr 8, 2014 ANANTHARAMAN wrote:

The article is very thought provoking and made me revisit my own life. When I graduated in 2000, i was sponsored by my college to go through a career guidance programme conducted by the University's Psychology department and the HR department of the management Institute. End of many tests and lectures and awareness programmes, before the career guidance session,  the heads of  departments observed that there was in me, a total lack of drive and ambition. To my question whether their observation was based on their idea of achievement and money and whether it matters in life, they smiled and said that as long as it does not affect you, it hardly matters. I modelled my career as per their guidance and had a fulfilling eleven years of my initial career with a corporation involved in industrial development of backward areas of the state.I had an unwritten agreement with my boss where I would do anything he wanted me to do (on priority), with a proviso that he will never  See full.

The article is very thought provoking and made me revisit my own life. When I graduated in 2000, i was sponsored by my college to go through a career guidance programme conducted by the University's Psychology department and the HR department of the management Institute. End of many tests and lectures and awareness programmes, before the career guidance session,  the heads of  departments observed that there was in me, a total lack of drive and ambition. To my question whether their observation was based on their idea of achievement and money and whether it matters in life, they smiled and said that as long as it does not affect you, it hardly matters. I modelled my career as per their guidance and had a fulfilling eleven years of my initial career with a corporation involved in industrial development of backward areas of the state.I had an unwritten agreement with my boss where I would do anything he wanted me to do (on priority), with a proviso that he will never ask me not to do something which I wanted to do. In the process I started to encourage and support DOING  and moved out from a commercial space to  service space. The shift was such that out of 8-10 hrs of working, nearly 3-4  hours was spent in doing things interesting, not directly connected with my work but which was indirectly benefiting the organisation. I left service the day I was 35 and became a free lance Industrial Advisor encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship including social entrepreneurship.. I was earning around Rs4000/- per month more than sufficient for a decent livelihood  spending as little time as possible for livelihood earning and spending the balance time making my own life interesting. Over the past 30 years I have moved from earning Rs5000/month working two afternoons a week to earning Rs60000/- working one afternoon a month. In between some interesting assignments  were also taken up where the fees was left to the beneficiary to pay as per their assessment of value received. Most of the times there was no scope of work defined nor  fees discussed with emphasis on involvement (have been involved with anything and everything one can imagine) with a high level of faith, all the while encouraging and supporting DOING and promoting and supporting social causes .  In this process over the past 30 years I have come across interesting people (from all walks of life), great relationships, interesting projects, and has been the recepient of unimaginable love and generosity, In fact I could with pride claim that I have more than 100 years of experience and the wealth generated in real terms as also in terms of time value of money for the time spent between the livelihood earning periods is beyond anybody's imagination. I am  67 years  and still believe that LIFE STARTS NOW
WHO SAYS TIME IS NOT MONEY!!!

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On Apr 3, 2014 Amit wrote:

 It is indeed very thought provoking question "What does creating a belief "I have time" do for you?" It is as if suddenly all the sound barriers to our ears, all the screens to block visions are removed and we are open to here and see things as they are! I had very active work life, I retired a year ago. Now I am relaxed, more observant for others and being alert. Honestly I am enjoying it more as I am being active differently.
I wonder if we human beings have understood time (inner time)? We have invested all our time and intelligence in all different kinds of possessions. Let us live beyond time in love and peace! 



1 reply: A | Post Your Reply
On Apr 3, 2014 JArora wrote:

 Fantastic passage! I wish I could've made it to the circle this week as I'm sure everyone had wonderful thoughts to share. I especially like the tone that we are in control of this perceived 'rush' that many of us feel and that it is actually all in our mind. This is such an empowering way to approach life's endless to-dos and meditation is one practice to help us slow down.



On Apr 1, 2014 Annette4 wrote:

 I often think about how different every individual's pace to life is.....how fas/slowt they walk somewhere, eat a meal, read a book, how much time they need to sleep or do whatever activities.  Ideally, with one's significant other, it's nice when the paces of one another can match somewhat or be in sync, but that doesn't always happen and I wonder if that is a criteria for a better relationship, or if we just need to accept each others unique pace.  



On Apr 1, 2014 Sis Asha wrote:

 I was one of those people who was always stressed because of insufficient time to do all my tasks in a day. Meditation teaches you the harmful effects of multi tasking and making time your master. Me, the soul is the master creator of time. Using meditation to increase efficiency makes it easier to perform each task easily without stress.



On Mar 31, 2014 Dan Duncan wrote:

 From 1979 until 1985 I was engaged day and night in the process of learning about computers until in 1981 I landed a position as a founder in a computer startup. For nearly 4 years then, until 1985 ,I worked on average 60 hours or more a week, sleeping under my desk when too tired to drive 40 miles to my apartment. I was working and learning at a furious rate. Many of my relationships evaporated and I was too engaged to care. I even ignored an invitation to be taken to Europe by a girlfriend, who then also disappeared. When the startup was purchased and I was suddenly out of work, after the initial reorientation, I realized that the previous 5 years had had more actual time and experience than the previous 20.  What began to make sense of this perception was an episode on Carl Sagan's series Cosmos, in which he explored the warping of time as one approaches the speed of light. I figured that my brain was processing information at an increased rate and so had actually experi  See full.

 From 1979 until 1985 I was engaged day and night in the process of learning about computers until in 1981 I landed a position as a founder in a computer startup. For nearly 4 years then, until 1985 ,I worked on average 60 hours or more a week, sleeping under my desk when too tired to drive 40 miles to my apartment. I was working and learning at a furious rate. Many of my relationships evaporated and I was too engaged to care. I even ignored an invitation to be taken to Europe by a girlfriend, who then also disappeared.

When the startup was purchased and I was suddenly out of work, after the initial reorientation, I realized that the previous 5 years had had more actual time and experience than the previous 20.  What began to make sense of this perception was an episode on Carl Sagan's series Cosmos, in which he explored the warping of time as one approaches the speed of light.

I figured that my brain was processing information at an increased rate and so had actually experienced more.

Then I understood that what Richard Eberhart had written was not a dream but a description of fact, and an invitation.

If I Could Only Live at the Pitch That is Near Madness
by Richard Eberhart (1904 – 2005)
 
If I could only live at the pitch that is near madness
When everything is as it was in my childhood
Violent, vivid, and of infinite possibility:
That the sun and the moon broke over my head.
 
Then I cast time out of the trees and fields,                          
Then I stood immaculate in the Ego;
Then I eyed the world with all delight,
Reality was the perfection of my sight.
 
And time has big handles on the hands,
Fields and trees a way of being themselves.                          
I saw battalions of the race of mankind
Standing stolid, demanding a moral answer.
 
I gave the moral answer and I died
And into a realm of complexity came
Where nothing is possible but necessity                               
And the truth waiting there like a red babe.

=============
Thanks for reconnecting me with this life-giving thread.


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3 replies: Me, David, AJ | Post Your Reply
On Mar 31, 2014 nisha wrote:

Thanks for one more good passag. Am reminded of The Buddha's quote. "The problem is, people think they have time"..



On Mar 31, 2014 Ganoba wrote:

 Some random thoughts.
Money by itself has no values. Making money, accumulating it or spending it are value less activities in themselves. Value is added when it flows. A thriving business would pay attention to cash flow.
Money represents resources; external resources like land, machinery, technology etc. and internal resources like human potential. These add value when they are managed well that is when they are utilized in a productive way.
Time is not like money or like any of the other things. Time is. It is an existential truth. We are so caught p with objects and activities that we do not understand it at all, just as we do not understand the value of being silent and still and being playful. Time is an immeasurable. It is not an object that travels, fast or slow.



On Mar 31, 2014 Abhishek Thakore wrote:

 Eknath Easwaran's "Take Your Time" has been particularly helpful to me with regards to manging my time better.....the time I spend in silence itself occurs to me differently on different days - and I haven't still figured out what thought patterns do that....

I do find myself being extremely paranoid about where I 'spend' my time, but recently I have become way more mindful about it - a visit to a dentist for example is a great lesson in patience :)

Slowing down is surely valuable, and several times a day I slow down to reorient myself.



On Mar 30, 2014 david doane wrote:

 Outer time or clock time moves along no matter what we do.  Inner time usually doesn't match outer time as my inner  experience may be that time is dragging or time flies by.  I think there are occasions to pay attention to outer time, like when there's a schedule to meet and I'm involved in a goal directed activity, and I'm pressed for time and stressed and worried that I'll run out of time before I get the job done.  There are times to ignore outer time, like when I'm off the clock and engaged in goalless activity which is stressless, relaxing.  "I have time" -- I don't know if I have 1 more second or 40 more years of clock time in this body -- what's important is what I do with that time, and I have some choice about that.  Like everyone, I've been in situations where 5 minutes seemed like an hour, and in situations where an hour seemed like 5 minutes.  Being in the now is a most special time that disregards outer time, is eternal or outside  See full.

 Outer time or clock time moves along no matter what we do.  Inner time usually doesn't match outer time as my inner  experience may be that time is dragging or time flies by.  I think there are occasions to pay attention to outer time, like when there's a schedule to meet and I'm involved in a goal directed activity, and I'm pressed for time and stressed and worried that I'll run out of time before I get the job done.  There are times to ignore outer time, like when I'm off the clock and engaged in goalless activity which is stressless, relaxing.  "I have time" -- I don't know if I have 1 more second or 40 more years of clock time in this body -- what's important is what I do with that time, and I have some choice about that.  Like everyone, I've been in situations where 5 minutes seemed like an hour, and in situations where an hour seemed like 5 minutes.  Being in the now is a most special time that disregards outer time, is eternal or outside of time, and is timeless. 

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On Mar 28, 2014 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Time and space are mental construct we have created from functional point of view.The sun and the moon and the natural phenomena follow their own natural rhythms. Civilization is not natural. Cultural is not natural. People in different civilizations and cultures have a different perspective on time. In this digital period everything is moving fast including our mind. So the speed of the time and the value of the time, fast or slow, useful or useless, good or bad, is perceived, assessed, evaluated and is felt by by our mind conditioned by our culture.  When I am in a village in India, the understanding, perception and value of the time is do different  when I am in a big city. The people who do not carry watch or cell phone have a different way of looking and feeling time.  I will never forget an experience I had in a small village in my home state. My sister used to live in the same small house  that was the farmer's house. It was living  See full.

 Time and space are mental construct we have created from functional point of view.The sun and the moon and the natural phenomena follow their own natural rhythms. Civilization is not natural. Cultural is not natural. People in different civilizations and cultures have a different perspective on time. In this digital period everything is moving fast including our mind. So the speed of the time and the value of the time, fast or slow, useful or useless, good or bad, is perceived, assessed, evaluated and is felt by by our mind conditioned by our culture. 

When I am in a village in India, the understanding, perception and value of the time is do different  when I am in a big city. The people who do not carry watch or cell phone have a different way of looking and feeling time.  I will never forget an experience I had in a small village in my home state. My sister used to live in the same small house  that was the farmer's house. It was living in an extended family. I watched the farmer family=husband and wife , getting up early in the morning before the sun rise. They would do the morning activities without feeling stress that included lighting up the the candle like lamp, bowing to the lamp and praying together.The husband would take his home made fresh simple lunch with him. Every morning , the wife asked the same question with a genuine natural feeling as her husband would leave: what time will you come back? Her husband;s answer was the same expressing the genuine joyful and thankful feeling: I will come home when the dust arising from the hoofs of our cows settle down. Like all villages, they worked hard with a great sense of pride in doing their work. No rush, no quick kiss on the lips, no hurriedness in their daily life cycle. This was an eye opening and unforgettable experience for me.

This is what learned. Flow with the time and do not let the time determine the flow of my energy. When I misstep, I pay the price for it-some times head aches, at times tension in my stomach. I am creating my own psycho somatic disorder, deviating my natural orderly rhythm. If I am late due to traffic jam or an auto accident, I take deep  and soft breaths practically doing nothing except observing the annoying and upsetting behaviors of my fellow car drivers praying for their well-being. Without rushing and feeling anxious I call the receptionist or leave a message on the voice mail. I make it sure that I do not act irresponsibly and insensitively.

So what is time? It is  a man made construct and not the reality. We make the world how we perceive it. it is the mind's creation. It is up to me-to make myself imprisoned by the culturally created and conditioned mind set or letting my mind free from the culturally conditioned my mind. It is a matter of making  a conscious choice with a quiet and clear and free mind. Knowing when to run and when to walk slowly, when to eat and not to eat, when to go to bed and not to go to bed. It boils down to making a clear and conscious choice making. It  requires remaining awake in my mind. The awakened mind is a wise mind, a peaceful mind and unhurried mind.

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave

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On Mar 28, 2014 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

Being mindful combined with time spent in developing world where time is viewed much differently than in much of the Western world where so many are so frenzied much of the time has deeply impacted my own view of time. I no longer wear a watch. I do my best to BE wherever I am fully, not stressing about time "stuck" in traffic. When in traffic it's an opportunity to breathe & be. Focusing on NOW and Choosing to BE helps so much in relaxing in present time. Friends from the developing world have been a huge help in recalibrating my sense of time; to be fully present in every situation. Here's to relaxing into time. We have more of it than we realize. It's how we CHOOSE to live it that matters. HUG from me to you!



On Mar 28, 2014 xiaoshan pan wrote:

Frankly speaking, I have no idea what time is. If the existence of time is a fact, then it was there long before the inventions of clocks and calendars, and the earth going around the sun, then we probably are getting it all wrong today with the internal/external time stuff. If the existence of time is not a fact but a human psychological construct, then perhaps one way of dealing with it is not dealing with it at all, because of its non- factual- existence. I am wondering Is it possible to live a life without time?      



On Mar 28, 2014 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:

 I frequently operate unconsciously, especially when I am driving. I am not really in a hurry but I frequently drive fast so as to get to the "next thing." Creating a belief that "I have time" is very useful for me in that it helps me be in the present moment. When I'm unconscious, as I am most of the time, I am not in the present moment nor am I mindful. Right now I am noticing the correlation between inner time and external activity. I notice what is happening now and as I do that, and as I continue to mindfully be in the present moment, I notice that my time and external activity are one. Thank you for the opportunity to respond. Warm and kind regards to everyone.