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Does Time Have to Fly?

The problem with time flying is that it usually means we’re missing out.

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels
Source: Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

“Time flies…” I’m sure you’ve heard that saying more times than you can count. As we grow older, we accumulate more and more experiences and memories. When we look back, we may be surprised at how quickly the months, years, and decades have passed.

But despite the passing of time, does it really have to fly? In this post, I’ll provide an alternative perspective that challenges this popular saying.

The problem with time flying is that it usually means we’re missing out. In our busy lives filled with to-do lists and professional and personal commitments, our days fly by. It’s as if we’re dining at a restaurant with the most amazing food. But in our rush to finish the meal as quickly as possible—so we can move on to the next task—we don’t appreciate the exquisitely prepared food in front of us.

On the other hand, if we cultivate the practice of slowing down, we learn to enjoy the present. Or, to use another saying, when we “stop to smell the roses,” we appreciate events as they unfold. No longer does time fly. Rather than have our lives breeze by us, we cherish each moment as we would an unforgettable piece of music, a meal, or time with a loved one.

Time may fly because of our current circumstances. Perhaps we’re raising a family, in which case we’re constantly meeting the needs of our children. Or maybe we’re working so hard that we’re constantly on the go.

Meanwhile, some of us have made the conscious decision to allow time to fly. We may be working toward a big goal. Perhaps we’re delaying gratification until we take our long-awaited vacation. Or maybe we’re going non-stop because we’re wanting to retire.

Unfortunately, if we’re moving one hundred miles per hour right now, we will most likely find it difficult to slow down once we’ve reached whatever goal we’ve had in mind. As a result, our lives won’t go as well as we had hoped.

Whatever the situation you find yourself in, the way to avoid time flying is to continually find areas where you can slow down. This doesn’t require dramatic change in our external lives—we don’t have to quit our jobs or leave our kids behind. But it does require us to realize the importance of slowing down and then making the effort to do so. Each step we take—big and small—to slow down will lead us to appreciate every moment, instead of having life breeze by us.

One practice that cultivates slowing down is meditation. When we meditate, we sit still and quietly. We check in with ourselves. How are we feeling? Agitated and restless? Or calm and relaxed? By paying attention to our inner lives and taking a step back and observing our thoughts, we give our minds a break and also invest in our overall well being.

If you’ve never meditated before, a simple strategy is to find a comfortable place to sit, relax your body, maintain an upright spine so you don’t doze off, close your eyes, and observe your breath. There is no right minimum or maximum time to meditate. But if you’ve never meditated before, I recommend you ease into it. Start with five to ten minutes after you wake up or before you go to bed or both. You can increase your meditation time over time.

As you sit quietly, most likely thoughts will pop up. When they do, such as a task you need to complete or a memory from the past, you simply return to the inhale or exhale. Rather than push thoughts away, which often causes them to grow in intensity, you observe them and then return to the breath.

For some people, observing the breath is a challenge. Guided meditations are another effective approach.

If you want to appreciate every moment rather than live as if time is flying by, change is possible. It doesn’t require any drastic move. The strategies are simple and time tested, such as meditation. But it does require commitment.

Once you begin slowing down and appreciating more moments throughout your day, you’ll begin to see what a beautiful adventure life is. Time will no longer fly by. Instead, it will be filled with experiences you enjoy, each like a treasured gift.

More from Robert Puff Ph.D.
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