“…There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them…”
–From “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce
Many of us think that material possessions and symbols of affluence (such as designer clothes, expensive cars, etc.) are great predictors of well-being and happiness. There is, however, another type of affluence that is a much better predictor of how happy and content we are. It is called time affluence. Time affluence is the feeling that we have enough time to pursue activities that are personally meaningful, to reflect, and to engage in leisure activities that we enjoy. Incorporating free time or “white space” in your life may lead to greater happiness and true wealth.
Advertisers often entice us to purchase products or use services to achieve love, competence, joy, and/or success. The truth is that material possessions and symbols of affluence are not good predictors of our well-being or happiness. Once most of us have the money we need to satisfy our basic needs, additional money and possessions do not provide additional joy.
Time affluence has a way of making us feel “rich”—rich in comfort, rich in relaxation, rich in the ability to pursue and savor pleasures, and rich in the ability to nurture relationships that matter. Time poverty or time famine is the opposite feeling. It is the feeling that we are constantly stressed, rushed, overworked, and behind in things that are important. If we take the time to look around us, and often at ourselves, we often realize that time poverty is pervasive in our culture.
Kim Childs, who writes about time affluence, talks about carving out “white space” in our lives in order to let innovation, play, and freedom enter. When we don’t include white space in our lives, we can’t allow ideas to marinate, breath, and reach their full potential (Childs, 2018).
How can we grow richer in time? Try these ideas for a start:
- Learn to say “Sorry, I’m not available” occasionally.
- Get up a bit earlier in the morning to do something that nourishes your spirit, no matter how brief or small, so you can set the tone for a more intentional and less reactive day.
- Set gentle alarms during the day that remind you to pause and breathe. You might also try adding a mantra such as, “There is enough time.”
- Step away from technology (such as smart phones, television, or personal computers) and do something totally unrelated to work. You might try taking a nature walk, stroking a pet, visiting a garden or museum, chatting with neighbors or co-workers, or taking time to walk, stretch, or even dance a little!
- Combine weekly errands into one or two days to leave other days free.
- When creating a to-do list, ask yourself, “What do I want to do next?” instead of “What do I have to do next?”
- Choose a “day of rest.” It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is but whatever day you choose, treat it with reverence, turn off devices, and enjoy the time you have.
- Leave time at the end of every day for no electronics (except maybe a lamp to read, write, or reflect by).
Time is not something we can expand through harder work, more effort, or better connections. No matter how much we organize, delegate, plan, or abbreviate, time is a limited resource. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and many of us spend those hours on things that we don’t value or love. Cultivate more time and space in your life by tracking how your time is spent—then reclaim chunks doing what you really want to do. See if increasing your time affluence results in greater happiness and true wealth.
Childs, K. (2018). Time affluence: Why doing less makes us happier. Retrieved July 11, 2018 from https://kripalu.org/resources/time-affluence-why-doing-less-makes-us-happier