Life Is Long If You Know How to Use It

“We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it…

Life is long if you know how to use it.”

Seneca – “On The Shortness of Life”

Time is not like money. You can’t earn time. You can’t spend time. You can’t hoard time.

Imagine, for example, feeling a bit strapped for time, and deciding to apply for a second job to try and earn a few more hours a week, or going on eBay to sell some of your old jewelry in exchange for an extra day. Doesn’t happen.

Or imagine, on the other hand, having way more time on your hands than you knew what to do with, and going to a stock-broker and asking him to invest it for you, to turn your original time into even more time. That’s not a thing either, nor will it ever be.

No, time is a unique kind of a resource, in that we have absolutely zero control over it. Nothing we do has any effect on time whatsoever. It’s just there, in the background, ticking along, completely independent of us. What we do have some control over, though, is what we’re doing as it ticks along.

And, at the risk of being bluntly binary about the whole thing, we’re doing one of two things: either we’re making wise use of the time that’s passing, or we’re wasting it.

If we’re doing something worthwhile with our time, our life expands, or at least it seems to. Days feels fuller, somehow. We might focus on fewer things, but give ourselves more deeply to them. Interestingly, when we use time properly, desperately amassing all the other resources loses its appeal.

If we’re wasting time though, the complete opposite happens. Our life shrinks. There is a hollow emptiness at the core of everything that we do, and the more we try to plug this void with indiscriminate busyness, with buying things we don’t need, and with stuffing our faces, the emptier we feel.

Now, I don’t know what constitutes a wise use of time versus a waste of time for you. That’s a very personal and idiosyncratic thing. But I would say that if you’ve never really thought about it, then do. A little subtraction here and a little addition there can make a world of difference.

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