Tiny Wisdom: Using the Hours We Have

“The whole life of a man is but a point in time; let us enjoy it.” -Plutarch

There are certain motivational quotes that I find to be a double-edged sword, in that they can both motivate us and lead to guilt and pressure, depending on how we interpret them.

One such quote reads, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

To me, this quote implies using our time well means doing something huge for humanity. It also fails to acknowledge that creating time sometimes takes…well, time.

It’s true: each one of us has exactly 24 hours to fill every day—and ultimately, we have the ability to create our lives as we visualize them. However, we’re all starting from different situations, with different responsibilities.

An unemployed person who does not yet have a family, who is living rent-free with friends, can much more easily find time for their passions than someone who has a mortgage to pay, three children to support, and aging parents depending on them for care.

This is not to say the second person should consider themselves a victim of their circumstances, or make excuses to forget about their goals.

It’s merely a neutral evaluation of the facts. Sometimes we simply have more free hours in our schedule.

Why is it important to acknowledge this? Because it allows us to form a realistic plan based on our unique situations—one that allows us to identify windows of time and maximize them to the best of our ability, instead of worrying we’re not doing enough and then feeling paralyzed.

It’s a matter of being kind to ourselves in assessing our current reality and making a plan to transform it. As far as I’m concerned, being kind to ourselves is always the best use of our time.

So often in life we push ourselves to do and be more than we are, sometimes sacrificing our self-care and other priorities in order to get where we think we need to be.

It always benefits us to make time for the things that really matter to us, but if the goal is meaning and joy, it serves us well to ensure we’re not overwhelming ourselves, sacrificing meaning and joy now, hoping we’ll find them later.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Time is such an abstract concept isn’t it.  We speak of it going quickly and dragging, and yet all we really have is the current moment.

  • I thought I was the only one who found motivational quotes guilt-inducing! I might not have solved the world’s problems in this 24-hour period, but I’m doing what little I can to improve myself…and that’s gotta count for something.

  • Laura

    Nice post Lori.
    I too struggle with this daily, thinking what GREAT BIG thing I am going to accomplish or start today. When it doesn’t happen, I feel let down, like I disappointed God. So, I have started to think what SMALL little thing I can do, and sometimes it does get accomplished! Daily, I remind myself to be in the moment, and just live fully in that SMALL part of each day.  I guess it’s like breathing, one breath at a time. If I tried to take it all in at once, my body would not be able to process it. Peace.

  • Robert C

    Great post!
    Interestingly enough ‘doing’ things and achieving things out there in the material world generally (but not always) has lead to the distruction of our planet.
    ‘Being’ has never destroyed anything.
    I love how you say being kind to ourselves is the best use if our time.
    I know the times that I am happiest are the times I’m appreciative of what I have, and simply enjoying the beauty that just is!

    Thanks again for your wisdom,

  • Linda Sommers

    At the end of the day my question to myself is simply, have I invested or spent my time.  Investment could mean I’ve done, or not done all manner of things, but I feel good about it.
    I’m pretty good at spending time too…I like to ‘faff’ ie a little of this and a little of that.  But I’ve given up blame, or self reproach…it just is what it is…my consciousness showing up.  And I get to choose all over again tomorrow.  It’s all good.
    Being kind to ourselves is essential, thanks for this Lori.

  • Jlillico

    Ha, all true. Gotta be careful we don’t forget in the labour induced haze who it is that we are cause its very important…

  • Danielle Regalado

    I have to say…  It’s strange, but it seems that tinybudda can read my moods…daily.  I love that! 
    This particular post…. has got me pegged. 
    The past several years has been a constant battle between my natural passionate/artistic/creative self and my deal with real life professional self.  
    Unfortunately, like most people, all of my time is taken WORKING to make money in order to pay to  exist.  I am performing a job that goes against my creativity.  By the time i get home I have a couple of hours to spend with my husband.  My brain is numb and I’m tired.  All the things I’ve loved to do my entire life has been set aside to please other people.  And worst of all… the proof is in the previous sentence i just wrote… i’ve done nothing except make excuses for why I can not write anymore, or even worse, plain neglect creating anything because i feel it wouldn’t be worthy enough to even show. 
    The point is…  force at least a few minutes everyday to write for me rather than for work.  After all  a job is only that.. a job.  My mental wellness supercedes the financial health of the company i work for.  It’s time to take a little time for me and create things to make myself happy.  After all.. it is myself that I live with intimately day after day.  Being in peace with one’s self is the only way to true divinity. <3

  • We just got to watch ourselves in order to don’t forget what’s really important everyday. It’s ok being busy now and then but we should always make sure we ‘have’ time to enjoy the ride.

  • Maggie Ferry

    I love this idea of a SMALL little thing. I can accomplish one of those a day. 🙂

  • Tehla

    Thank you so much for this…I’m sitting here crying as I type.  I am a single mother, with three children, and I am supporting them all alone with no help from anyone.  I work all day, I try to care for them and our apartment as best I can every evening, and I have been feeling like the biggest failure.  There is so much I want to explore and learn and experience, but I have felt like why even try since I can’t do anything “big”.  I only wanted to give up.
    This post makes me feel hopeful, like I can still do the things I want to do…just slowly and mindfully.

    Thank you so very much!

  • Sonah.

    Very well stated. We need to develop our skill and our performance, to make the most of the time already there, and stop finding  reasons why things cannot be done, thereby wasting precious time.

  • That’s so true Laura! One breath at a time, one tiny choice at a time. I personally think the little things often are the big things. =)

  • I’m with you Sage! I think when we choose to “be the change” we’re actually doing a bigger thing than we may realize!

  • So true. All we ever have is right now.

  • It’s so true Sonah! Every moment we spend worrying about time is a moment we don’t spend doing something we need and/or want to do.

  • You are most welcome Tehla. I remember having many times when I felt overwhelmed and paralyzed, and I only had me to care for! I think being a mother is one of the most challenging and important jobs in the world, especially if you’re doing it alone. Your children are fortunate to have you! I hope you have a wonderful weekend with a little time to do whatever it is you want to do for you!

  • I love what you wrote here: “Being in peace with one’s self is the only way to true divinity.” So true! How wonderful that you’re going to take a little time for you. I would love to read your writing at some point! If you’d like to submit something for Tiny Buddha, that would be great. =)

  • “But I’ve given up blame, or self reproach…it just is what it is…my
    consciousness showing up.  And I get to choose all over again tomorrow. 
    It’s all good.” <~ Beautiful =)

  • Thanks Robert! As for this part: “I know the times that I am happiest are the times I’m appreciative of what I have, and simply enjoying the beauty that just is!” I’m with you!