Time and time again
The two forms of time and a common time trap that prevents true happiness
Hello fellow Protagonists,
We boot up the computer and open up our work calendar in the morning to see what the day has in store.
"So I have a team meeting from 09:00-10:30, then a quick bit of typing up to do, and then a call with Steve from IT. This will take me up to lunch when I can eat last night's leftover lasagne*. There is staff training all afternoon that is on the same style of forced topics as last month and just like that the day will be done".
Who has had a morning like this before? I can say I have.
It can even feel good that the day looks full enough so that we are not left twiddling thumbs, or heaven forbid creating new work for ourselves.
The direction we are going to take is not a discussion on productivity and blocking tasks, but on time itself. More importantly the perception of time.
How often do we hear people say "There is only 2 more hours to go", or "Today is going slow", or "I cant believe it's only Tuesday" to then say "I can't believe it's Friday already".
In a way the two separate situations about feeling good over a blocked day and complaining about it only being a Tuesday, both come from the same time trap.
That we are seeing the present as a means to an end
Some are happy that our work day is busy because that usually means the day will pass by more quickly. We have all been in a situation where there is little to do and as soon as we watch the clock, the game is already over.
I worked in a supermarket (that no longer exists) in the past and remember that we had to be very careful not to complete the task of making the store shelves look neat too quickly, as then we would tell the supervisor that the work was done and they simply would ask us to start over again. A clock watching nightmare. If I had been a good boy I may have been allowed to crush cardboard boxes in the stockroom.
Is it good that our day will pass by quickly? Is it good to wish it was a Friday when it is Tuesday?
I bet if we were told that today was our last day we would not wish it by so quickly, and it probably will be the last day for some out there. We just don't know who.
Seeing the present time as a means to an end (to get to a further point) prevents us from being able to live in the moment. We are not thinking about the present we are focused on what we want to achieve in the future, whether that be a busy day or the end of the work week.
Our true self, which is also where happiness chills, is in the present moment. It is the ego that is interested in the future.
The ego depends on the past for your identity and the future for your fulfillment - Eckhart Tolle
The ego is the part of us all that tells us happiness is found later on, at the end of the day or week. We get to the end of the day or week, don't feel particularly happier, or not for long, and then the cycle repeats itself.
Time is something us humans gave name to in order to measure the space between events. There is a valuable point some make to think about, that time does not exist the same way that we believe it does, that we live in an eternal line of present moments. There is no past or future.
There are two forms of time. The one we all agree on is "clock time" which enables us to attend a team meeting at 9:00 and know that other people will most probably be there. Clock time is the practical aspect of time and a valuable tool for socialization and planning.
The other form of time is perceived time which is being focused on in this post. This is the mental aspect of time. The decision to either live in the moment or to focus on the past and future over the present.
That somehow the future exists even though it is not happening.
By focusing on a future moment, we are denying ourselves the joy of the present moment we have right now.
When we fully immerse ourselves into a situation, time will naturally (be perceived to) pass by faster. This has been referred to as a few things, such as flow. The key difference here is that we are in the moment and time passes quickly as a consequence, rather than trying to fill time in order for time to pass quickly.
It is a subtle change of wording with a life-sized difference.
Our day is like searching for the treasure of happiness. We can skim across large open fields that take up the day, or focus on the moment and dig down.
Clock time will go by at the same speed regardless of what we are doing. Perceived time we may try to speed it up or slow it down, both of which remove us from the happiness found in the present moment.
*Apparently Lasagne is the plural for Lasagna!
GLHF (Good Luck Have Fun)
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