It's not clear what Emerson was referring to with his quote about money, but most of would link the concept of time to the cost of money. In our culture, the concepts of money and time are deeply entwined. Just think about the words we use…we save, spend, waste, both money and time. We even say “Time is money.” Most of us would agree we could never have too much time or too much money. However, the focus of most of our conversations and thoughts refer to the need for more time. "If I only had a few more hours in the day!"
The time poverty of everyday life causes us stress and often limits our enjoyment of life. We do all kinds of things to deal with the lack of time. We postpone enjoyment of many aspects of our life to when will have more time such as the weekends, vacations, and even to when we retire. Intuitively, we know this doesn’t make sense, but yet we repeat this cycle week after week and year after year. We are willing to live this way because the consequences of having more time may mean giving up something, like money. And frankly, this isn’t option for most of us.
So how do we create more time and opportunities to enjoy all that life offers? There is a simple solution. When we are more present in our lives, we experience time differently. Instead of focusing on the amount of time, how about thinking about the quality of our experiences? Many research studies have documented that the perception of time changes when we are present (Weiner, et al., 2016).
For example, when we are more mindful, that is in the moment, we overestimate amount of time that has lapsed of time but at the same time we feel like it passed by quickly (Weiner, et al., 2016). We experience this paradox when we are totally engaged in a task, a conversation, or gazing at an inspirational view. We take in so much information that we think, “I’ve been here forever and yet the time passed so quickly.” We also know from research that when we are present, we perform better on tasks, make fewer mistakes, and remember more about what we are doing (Ainsworth, et al., 2013).
It seems we do have more control over time than we think. This simple change doesn’t require us to give up anything and may even free up time for us to do something now that we would typically postpone to someday. Wouldn’t that be a nice bonus?
Ainsworth, B., Eddershaw, R., Meron, D., Baldwin, D. S. and Garner, M. (2013). The effect of focused attention and open monitoring meditation on attention network function in healthy volunteers. Psychiatry Research, 210, 1226-1231.
Weiner, Luisa, Wittmann, Marc, Bertschy, Gilles, and Giersch, Anne (2016). Dispositional Mindfulness and Subjective Time in Healthy Individuals. Frontiers in Psychology, Vol 7, May, 2016.
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