Dancing Outside of Time

Have you ever wondered why you can pick up where you left off in a conversation with really good friends, even if distance and time separate you?

Have you ever considered why time seems to fly when you spend time with someone you truly love?

Researchers will tell you it is because your time perception is skewed by desire, expectation for reward and motivation to achieve a goal.

But I have another theory.

We live in two systems: the first arranges our lives around the clock: 8 am breakfast meeting; 10 am Skype call; noon lunch meeting and don’t-forget-to-pick-the-kids-up-after-soccer-practice this afternoon. It is a structured existence in which we operate much like machines. 

Only we aren’t machines. We are living, breathing human beings with feelings.

The second system relates to our emotional world. Because love is the strongest emotion, it suspends time altogether, making the clock, and everything bound to it, absolutely irrelevant. We literally dance outside of time when we spend it with people who give us positive emotions.

Time is a construct, an organizing principle that alleviates commercial trade. It isn’t real. And yet we live as if it were. When love enters the picture, its power overrides our sense of time crunch, hurriedness and desperate lunge to the finish line. All of it fades into the background when we experience the wonders of love.

It explains why I can talk to my best friend for two hours straight while it feels like twenty minutes. Or why a week spent with my love feels like an hour. Or why a chat with my mom whizzes by at the speed of light.

The ties that bind us feed our souls.

The only solution I’ve found to clock combat is to love time itself. Even though it is something we’ve made up — like an imaginary friend — it feels real to us. If we embrace time as a friend, it will give back to us just as our real friends do.

And then we can all dance in and out of time – together.

 

The Timelessness of a Timepiece

Things surface at the strangest times.

Ten years ago when I moved to Bavaria, my grandmother’s couch was delivered ten weeks after we arrived. It had gotten ‘lost’ according to the movers. By the time it finally landed in our house, it had travelled over 6,000 miles from its original place in Connecticut to the cow town where we lived.

As the movers brought the couch into our living room, a tube of lipstick fell from the interior of the couch. After all those miles and years, my grandmother’s presence could still be felt. She always said a lady was dressed as long as she was wearing lipstick and pearls. It was her way of reminding me that everything was going to be alright.

A decade later, as I culled through years of stuff in preparation for my move to Freiburg, it was my grandfather’s turn to have his say. His watch showed up in the palm of my hand in the kitchen. On the back was an inscription: 1931-1956 WHGrant. It was congratulating him for all his years of service with the company.

As I held his timepiece in my hand, I could feel the rhythm of time that his watch had measured. Oddly, the watch gave me an overwhelming feeling of timelessness.

Finding his watch was a sign to me that all things come in good time.

According to neuroscientist David Eagleman, we can slow down time simply by living enriching lives. The more detail we remember from our experiences, the longer our lives feel.

So if you are bored with your life, give it a kick with something new. You may not wish to move house, as I have chosen to, but bring some color back into your life by changing just one thing in your routine today. It will fire up your brain cells and give you the sense that time, and all that you experience in it, is rich and satisfying and beautiful.

Now that’s a life worth living indeed!

Celebrating Time

Happy Birthday!

Image via Wikipedia

No other time of the year is quite as remarkable as your birthday. It’s the anniversary of your coming into full being on the planet. If that’s not reason to celebrate!

The best part is when others are joyful and congratulate you for another year as the person you are. And that’s pretty darn special.

The truth is birthdays wouldn’t be possible without a team of people making sure you make it here.

And so to my mom, my dad, my sisters, the doctors and nurses on staff (not to mention the people who made sure the place was clean), I say thank you. Because without you, things wouldn’t quite have worked out as they did.

Life, from beginning to end, is a team effort.

Here’s one for the team. Thank you all for making my birthday (yesterday) a most incredibly special one. I was overwhelemd with the number of people on Facebook alone who took the time to wish me well.

Blessings to you all!

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Why it’s not about time, but what you do with it

Imagine being made up of milliseconds like pixels in a picture. Every second counts and forms who we are.

 

Image from Smashing Magazine

Yet so many of us combat time as if it is something to beat. In truth, what we are doing is beating up ourselves.

„If only I had more time…“ is a common phrase among people in general. Our collective time starvation has us running at an unsustainable pace. As your information delivery systems get faster, so do we. The trouble is we can’t run any faster than we are.

The result is giving in to the temptation to multitask, something our brains literally cannot do. Oprah agrees. Think No Phone Zone and all.

‘Time’ and ‘being busy’ are a mindset. Time  is a construct into which we are born. We’ve made up the notion of time to structure our lives. But since we are defined by two time notations (our date of birth and the date of our passing), we live as if it is real. Since we act as if it exists, it might be a good idea to establish a more positive relationship with this thing called time so you have more of it. Because after all, don’t you want more of what you’re made of?

It’s not about creating more time. It’s about looking at the things you do within the time that you have.

Time abundance is having more than enough time to do what is required to fulfill your ultimate purpose. If you are so busy reacting to the things around you instead of putting yourself into proactive mode, you will always be at the beck and call of your surroundings.

Are you checking your emails twenty times a day? Are you subscribed to more newsletters than you can manage in a day? Do you really need to be copied on every single intra-office correspondence?

Tip #1:

Prioritize. The Eisenhower principle states there are urgent/non-urgent and important/non-important things.

There are also urgent/non-important things (the phone ringing ~anything that demands your immediate attention).

There are urgent/important things (that pending annual sales meeting).

There are non-urgent/important things (working toward your annual goals).

There are non-urgent/non-important things (surfing the Internet to ‘relax’. Like TV, it won’t relax you, but places you in a mild state of depression).

Tip #2:

Make your list of immediate to-dos. Most likely, there are four or five things on that list. Everything else can wait or be delegated.

Tip #3:

If you are overwhelmed, one of several things needs to happen:

1)    Delegate

2)    Say ‘no’ (or ‘here’s what I can do…’)

3)    Manage expectations

4)    Examine your habits

5)    Focus

6)    Avoid procrastination/last-minute rushes

7)    Take a time-out (a well-rested manager is a productive one)

8)    Stop multitasking. Who won the race, the tortoise or the hare?

9)    Take a vacation to rescucitate your ability ot handle stress.

10)  Re-examine your personal relationship with time. How often do you say you don’t have any?

If you do these things, I promise you won’t yearn for that extra hour because, in truth, time abundance will be yours.

The power of slow is about being the master of your own ship. It’s your life. What are you going to do with it?

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Survey Time ~ It’s a question of time

In my travels I have had the pleasure of interviewing some amazing people about their relationship with time. From Bikram Choudhury to Deepak Chopra to Rosanne Cash, I’ve asked them all the same questions.

Now it’s your turn! Take this thirty-second survey to find out how you relate to time. I’ll be revealing the results in a little while so please participate. Your voice counts!

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On Savoring

According to research in the area of positive psychology, savoring can literally expand our sense of time. It is the scooping up of life moments that gives us meaning.

If you’ve ever watched a show such as American Idol, the winners will tell you it was like being in a state of shock. It is a timeless feeling so overwhelming it cannot be savored. While many of us look for that next ‘kick’, the smaller moments such as breathing the smell of your freshly cut grass or cuddling a pet that keep us grounded and most happy. We cannot live in a constant state of adrenaline. It is, in fact, unhealthy to do so.

Life offers us all kinds of choices. This morning I was faced with a simple one. Either I could take the convenient route and drive my car to a local bakery or I could embrace the power of slow and ride my bike.

Which would be the more savoring activity? A car ride offers protection from the elements while a bike ride allows you to experience so much more: the breeze, the dust, the pavement, the cow dung-strewn fields. The fingers of verdant grass literally beckoned me outdoors.

The air’s chill did not deter me as I swung my leg over the saddle of my mountain bike. I used to ride 26 KM a day to and from University. I felt my younger self rekindled.

“I will have a chocolate croissant!” I exclaimed, giggling ferociously into the wind. It was all downhill on the way. In fact, I made it to my favorite bakery within twenty minutes.

Trying hard not to press my nose to the glass, I scanned the remaining baked goods. It was 9 am for pete’s sake! Not a chocolate croissant in sight. I mocked myself for my false bravery as I pointed to an apple danish.

“I’ll have that one.” I mustered a smile.

The ride back was a little more vigorous, but surprisingly less so than I remember (that indoor spinning class this past winter helped). I clamped the bag under my hand as I pumped my way back up the hill, savoring the anticipation of a nice cup of Joe with my danish.

It made the entire experience so much more enjoyable. The journey is the destination ~with a good baked good tucked into your palm, even better!

How will you savor a moment in your day?

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Time Relationship and the Marshmellow Game

It’s not just me. Time perceptions really do inform how we live our lives. According to John Byrd and Philip Zimbardo, two psychologists from California, children’s ability to delay gratification led to improved standardized test performance later in life.

Wow. A marshmellow today or two tomorrow. Which one would you pick?

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Desiderata Days ~ Rights

One powerful thing I’ve learned from my mother is taking delight in everyone I meet. While some people are more agreeable than others, there is good in everyone. Practice speaking to that goodness when you meet someone new. You might be surprised at what they have to offer.

Max Ehrmann says:

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

We all have  a right to be  here. What will you do with your time?

Daylight Saving Time ~ Does it Save Time?

Remember that cool car Michael J Fox drove in the movie, ‘Back to the Future’, that ultra-suave time machine that allowed him to not only look cool on screen, but also impact events in past and future? On Sunday, March 14 at 2 a.m., we’ll be wishing we looked that dapper. Daylight Saving Time has more of a bewildering effect on our organism than anything else. It is mini jet-lag at its best.

Every year it’s the same old story. We switch the clocks, blink bleary-eyed out the window, and wonder why it’s still dark outside. We battle with our own instincts to curl up into the fetal position for one more round of sleep.

Let’s look at it positively. It is the one moment of the year in which we get to jump forward an hour with a simple twist of the clock. A minor inconvenience of modern life, Daylight Saving Time is meant to save energy. While most of our lives is spent on some level of clock combat as we try to beat more into our schedules, Daylight Saving Time has more to do with war than you might know.

Daylight Saving Time was first instituted during World War I in the United States to take advantage of the longer daylight hours for war production between the months of April and October. During World War II the time change was reinstated for the same reasons. Between the wars, the federal government allowed each State to decide whether or not to observe the time change. It wasn’t until 1966 that the Uniform Time Act standardized the length of Daylight Saving Time. During the Bush Administration, Daylight Saving Time was extended by four weeks after the Energy Policy Act was passed in 2005. By 2007, forty-seven and one-half states, with the exception of Arizona, Hawaii and the Eastern Time Zone of Indiana that do not observe the time change, got to spring forward in March instead of April.

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Time Resources:

Time around the world:  www.worldtimeserver.com

Time-saving tips:  www.PowerofSlow.org

Virtual calendar: www.google.com/calendar

Biological Age: www.realage.com/

If changing the clock gives you the blues, you are not alone. According to an informal poll on PowerofSlow.org, most people reported feeling groggy and disoriented for a few days after the clocks turn forward. According to research presented in the Journal of Applied Psychology in September 2009, job-related injuries soar right after Daylight Saving Time. Although it is intended to save energy, in some cases changing the clock costs people sleep, thereby leaving them lethargic and more accident-prone.

To ensure you keep a spring in your step, consider these tips to offset the effects of this year’s clock change:

  1. Progressively go to bed a few minutes earlier a week before the clock change.
  2. Be sure you get sufficient exposure to natural light. Your body’s circadian rhythm depends on it.
  3. Not only the time change, but also the change in weather can affect your immune system. Eat vitamin-rich foods. A rule of thumb is to eat one thing in its natural state with every meal (yes, lettuce on your sandwich counts!).
  4. Sleep with the shades up for a few days so it is easier to get up in the morning.
  5. Research at the University of Sussex has shown that reading for just six minutes can reduce your stress level by sixty-eight percent.  Integrate some reading time into your routine before you go to sleep.

Our relationship with time impacts every other relationship we have. When we feel rushed and time-starved, we enjoy our lives less. Daylight Saving Time is a great opportunity to embrace the notion of time abundance, even as we seemingly ‘lose an hour’.  Time abundance is a mindset that says you have more than enough time to fulfill your ultimate purpose. Just know you are only temporarily without the hour this March because you get it back in October. Besides, if we are all still around in 2012, you get to jump for joy for a whole extra day on February 29th. Now that’s reason enough to leap through the year!

New Poll: What’s Your Favorite Time of Day?

Leave a comment and tell me why! Oh, and Happy Friday, All. You’ve made it.