With everything that’s going on these days, it’s hard not to feel rushed.
It’s as though you are running from point A to point B, barely making it or feeling perpetually behind. It’s as if time is always working against you, or that there is never enough of it. You wake up and muddle through your morning routine, often trying to get kids to comply with your forward-motion (with varying results). And then the rest of the day consists of completing tasks related to work or chores or your children’s’ needs. You might even try to do some self-care, but even that’s just another thing to take up your time. Then you shift to dinner and the post-dinner routine but always with a similar air about it- rushed. It’s not until the kids are in bed, and everything is cleaned up and prepped for the next day that you can sit back on the couch and relax. But by that point, there isn’t much time left until bedtime either.
Yet, I’m sure you can also recall a handful of moments where time felt like it didn’t exist at all—a time when you never felt rushed. Maybe you were a child, playing freely. Or maybe you were in the beginning stages of a new relationship, enjoying your significant other. It’s as though time felt like it was standing still yet went by quickly at the same time. It felt so good.
I bet you can also think of a few moments when the time felt so long and slow; it was excruciating. Maybe a long, tedious work meeting. Or sitting and waiting for someone to arrive. Maybe you were trying to receive some vital information, but you had to wait to find out the answer.
Except for the fleeting occasions where time feels like it ceases to exist or feels slow like molasses, it mostly feels like we live in a race against it.
For me, at least, time always felt like this. Especially as a mother. I assumed time was a constant: something that existed outside of myself. I thought of time as something linear, and although my perception of how fast it moved varied, it (as an entity outside of me) stayed the same. Because it was a “thing” outside me, it was something I was always striving towards. It was as though I was a ship in the storm, and it was a faint lighthouse beacon ahead of me. It was as though I needed to get to it as quickly as possible before the light went out. It always felt like I was racing the clock, trying to finish my day with lots of it left. But the days went on in the same way: always finishing exhausted, with none left to spare.
After reading the works of Gay Hendricks and doing other research on the topic, I can see that my perspective of time was based on Newton’s theory of time as absolute. He believed that time existed as something separate from us and the rest of the universe.
Based on that theory, our interpretations of time were merely that: our interpretations. They were subjective and not accurate concerning the way time truly existed. His ideas emerged from the larger Zeitgeist of the era that God: an entity outside of us, created the laws of nature. As humans, we were only here to interpret these laws imperfectly for as long as we existed on the planet. His ideas tricked down into the mainstream way of thinking and got us caught feeling like it was always us vs. time. You can still see this everywhere today. Advertising consistently capitalizes on our fears of time running out.
And so for the most part, this is how the majority of us exist. Yet this theory has since been proven false by Albert Einstein. He stated that, in essence, time is an illusion. We are time. It is not an absolute “thing” outside of the universe or ourselves. We create it. As a result, the way we view it makes all the difference in how we experience it.
If we perceive ourselves as never having enough of it, we won’t. It’s that simple. When we exist with time as something that is always running out, we focus our attention on this fact. We often look at the time, with our thoughts somewhere in the future trying to plan for what’s ahead. Or we focus on the past, something else we can’t control.
So what does this mean for you and your busy day? How do we make the shift from experiencing time differently? How do we get time to start working for us, instead of feeling like we’re always bumbling forward with it still running out no matter how hard we try?
The answer is almost too simple to be taken seriously at first. But with a bit of practice, your day will feel more open, as though time is now yours. In short, the way to make more time is to embrace the space you are in right now. Be where you are.
Because just like the ocean exists in one drop of rain or the earth exists in one tiny grain of sand, the entire universe, including time, lives inside of you too, not the other way around.
Take a moment and focus on this. In your mind, acknowledge that you are the creator of time. It comes from you and only you. As soon as your thoughts start to wander away from this moment, you step out of the agency you have over it because you make a mental departure from your ability to create it. You can only create from right now.
I understand this might feel like a lot to take in. So here is an example of how it works: As you move forward through your day, imagine that time is being created around you, everywhere you go. If you are making a meal, yet stressing about your uncle’s failing health, for example, focus on the tightness in your chest and your shallow breaths that stress is causing you right here and now, rather than on a future state that you can’t control. Focusing your attention on right now is the only way to bring ease and efficiency to it. In that sense, everywhere you go, everything you do is exactly where you should be and what you should be doing when it’s all happening. If you can begin to picture your days like this and picture yourself as synonymous with time, you’ll start to worry less about running out of time. When you worry less, you’ll have a higher capacity to focus on what is most important right now. Your energy will feel less scatted as well, which will make you more efficient.
And yes, the chores will still be there. As will your kids. It’s not to say that people and responsibilities won’t be a part of your day anymore. And yes, there will still be future planning to do. There will also be situations from the past to reflect on so you can improve. But in essence, you’ll start feeling like less of a victim of time, be in a better state of focus to move forward with ease.
And I know that’s what we all want, especially in times like these.