Monday, May 8, 2017

Time Stress

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Mohandas K. Gandhi 

We are living in an age of speed. Whatever your perception of time may be, avoid a common behavior and personality time-related problem: time-stress. 

Forget about time-stress 

In everyday life, time-stress is a stress factor detrimental to both physical and mental health. Do not let the constraints of your life mold your time. To be able to do this, you need to change your perception of time. Everybody has only twenty-four hours a day. Come to think of it, time is really an equalizer of man. Do you really have more work that needs to be done than everyone else? Do you need to be a "thief of time" by sleeping less than others so that you may have more time than everyone else to do what needs to be done? No! Time is all in the mind—your mind as a result of your own thinking. 

How can you overcome time-stress? 

The solution is surprisingly quite simple: deliberate non-doing. Yes, you simply do nothing. It’s just that simple! Deliberate non-doing gives you a sense of inner calmness that enables you to re-consider the importance of doing only what is the most important, and to see in perspective all the things you consider important in your life. Only when you start doing what is the most important to you, then you will begin to have enough time for everything else. This may sound stranger than fiction, but this is the only way to overcoming time-stress in your golden years. 

This evening, when you get home, you may feel that you are overwhelmed and hard-pressed for time, such as there is a TV program that you want to watch, a dinner that you need to cook for yourself, some laundry that you need to do, some phone calls that you need to make, or your children or grandchildren’s homework that you need to supervise and attend to. 

At that very moment, when you think you are going to go crazy, stop short of doing anything—that is, do nothing! Be mindful of only that very present moment. Live in that now. Sit down, close your eyes, and meditate for fifteen to twenty minutes: you just have to sidestep the flow of time. If you don't know how to meditate, then just close your eyes, and pay attention to your breathing. If thoughts come to your mind, do not deliberately dismiss them, but just continue to concentrate on your breathing and let your thoughts just come and go; do not even strive to stop them. After that brief mental relaxation, you may have a totally different perspective of your needs and wants in life. If you have missed your favorite TV show, so what? If you haven’t made your dinner, go across the street and grab an unhealthy hamburger that you’re not supposed to eat. If you haven’t done your laundry, just let the pile of dirty clothing stack up. If you haven’t made those phone calls, that’s not the end of the world. If you haven’t helped your grand-children with their homework, it doesn’t mean that they would never go to Harvard or Yale. What is the most important to you is your inner calm, which is the absence of time-stress. Maybe you have just avoided a heart attack due to your time-stress. Just think about the possible alternative! 

Remember, time-stress occurs when you are spread too thin. So, prioritize and simplify your life. The first step to achieving this is deliberate non-doing amidst the hustle and bustle of contemporary life to purposely forget about time-stress. Try to let go of your attachments to life, especially those that define your ego-self. 

Stephen Lau
 Copyright© by Stephen Lau

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