“We’ve all heard the saying, stop and smell the roses. But it would be far better to be the gardener who grows the roses and lives with them constantly.” ~Deepak Chopra
What would it take to befriend time? To see time as an ally, a friend even—an opportunity?
Most of us have a much different relationship with time. One that is based on scarcity. The chorus of “I don’t have enough time” reverberates through conversations, social media channels, and personal mutterings.
Redefining our relationship with time isn’t like flipping a light switch. But it is a bit like pumping gas in your car.
I am one of those people that forget to make time to stop at the gas station as the fuel gauge in my car starts to veer towards the red E. I’ve never run out of gas, but the fuel light comes on more than I’d like to admit.
Why exactly would I ignore this gauge? Because of time. I see that the meter traverses from ½ a tank to ¼ of a tank, and I find myself thinking, “I don’t have time to stop and get gas right now. I’ll stop tomorrow.”
But tomorrow becomes the next day, and then the day after that. And by that point, the taunting orange light has been activated. Even then sometimes I ignore it, believing that I’m in a rush.
Except that something funny happens when eventually I pull into the gas station and stop long enough to fill up. The process of putting gas in my car doesn’t take very much time. Though I haven’t timed it, my guess is that from inserting my credit card to activate the machine to replacing the nozzle when I’m done, less than five minutes have passed.
Five minutes is forever. Minds can be changed in five minutes. Heartbeats can be elevated (or slowed) in five minutes. Smiles can be shared, laughter can fill a belly, and bodies can be hydrated in five minutes.
In fact, it seems to me that filling up my car with gas offers the perfect reminder of why we need to make time an ally. Cars need gas to function. We, like cars, have our own fuel needs to not just survive, but thrive.
Beyond food and water, we need play, we need sleep, we need connection, we need love. But too often, we tell ourselves we don’t have time.
We rush and scramble through the day, moving from one thing to the next, trying to check things off our lists as if productivity is the ultimate indicator of joy. And, more importantly, we tell ourselves that the things we crave will take too much time—time that we do not have.
What if we did have time? What if the things we crave could fill us up, just like gas fills a car, in just a few minutes? What if we could give ourselves permission to savor the unexpected moments instead of just the big, fancy, planned out ones?
Maybe instead of needing an hour long nap or workout, we could find fulfillment in a shorter power nap? Or instead of a trip to the gym for a workout, we could feel strong from mini-bursts of movements throughout the day?
What if we saw time as an opportunity for fulfillment like a friend that invites us to be present rather than using the hours on the clock as mile markers for productivity?
When I think back to the most heart-filling, nourishing moments of the last few months—or even the last few days—they are the ones that I had to allow myself to receive outside the boundaries and constraints of a schedule. The moments where I allowed myself to move slowly, so slowly in fact, that I had the opportunity to notice the dance of life around me.
Like when my heart smiled from pausing before I left my home office to hear my daughter singing out loud in the shower. Or when I made time for a thirty-minute yoga practice one evening and remembered that sometimes all it takes is a simple twist to let go of whatever I was holding on to. Or the evening that instead of making a run for it, trying to avoid the rain, my daughter and skipped and jumped in puddles on our way home.
None of these moments took any great length of time. And yet, had I been rushing, or listening to my thoughts run amok with reminders of how much I had on my to-do list, I would have missed them completely.
In The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks offers the question: “Am I willing to increase the amount of time every day that I feel good inside?”
So many of us use clocks as measures of progress. How long can I meditate? Can I beat my 5k pace? How many clients can I fit into one day? But these measures ignore all the smaller indicators. The goosebumps on your skin from noticing a sign that reminds you of something you love. Or the peaceful scene that you witnessed that reminded you to take a breath.
Instead of worrying about a spillover of gas when we pump those few last gallons in our car, how might the day be different if saw time as a way to top ourselves off with fulfillment?
The Easiest Way to Make Time a Friend Is to Create Space
Think of it like de-cluttering. What can you release to create more moments to see time as an opportunity? Maybe you need to release expectations or assumptions. Or perhaps you could let go of judgments around what it means to be successful or productive.
Just like de-cluttering and release creates space, a focus on what needs to be amplified cultivates abundance. If you are releasing expectations, can you amplify being guided by intuition? Could you amplify stillness by allowing yourself to stop throughout the day to take three breaths? Or six? What might it feel like to amplify nourishment for the mind, body, and soul?
I’ve heard all of it before. Parents who feel like time isn't on their sides with schedules and carpools. Or individuals who feel like they are at their best when they are trying to beat the clock. I’ve been there. In my early adult years, I often felt like I was most focused when my schedule was packed and had little time for distraction. But now I wonder.
Time and fulfillment seem inextricably connected. And I don’t know about you, but life feels much more delicious when you practice time management with your heart and clarity of purpose instead of a to-do list.