One evening a few weekends ago, we did not feel like going home yet after a comfort-food type dinner at Himawari on 2nd Avenue. And so, we ventured over to the theater nearby and chose “In Time.” The premise of the story sounded really interesting. However, the story line failed miserably to exploit it and the impressive cast chosen for it. In this post-post-millenium world, everyone stops aging when they reach the age of 25. However, instead of money as currency, it’s time. You earn additional time in your life, i.e., hours, days, months, years, if you work, steal, gamble, play. The wealthy around you have hundreds to thousands of years to live. When you want to buy something, you give up any earned time. If you run out of time, you die. Simple as that. Good premise. Unfortunately, bad execution in the movie. But time as a medium of exchange, as a prime commodity, as a coveted prize instead of money was very intriguing.
I had read a Stanford GSB article on Money, Time, and Happiness based on the research of Jennifer Aaker and Melanie Rudd, both from Stanford, with Cassie Mogilner from UPenn. Most people ultimately equated their happiness or contentment with having more time, not more money. It’s quite an interesting concept. And the more I thought about it, the more I have to agree. Our generation has been running itself ragged to earn more and more. But it’s when we spend time with the people who matter most to us, when we help the unfortunate, when we engage in activities that can make a difference in the lives of others—these are the times when we are truly alive.
I wish I had more time to savor the moments that I enjoyed over the years: raising our daughter, enjoying a walk or hike with Louie and our dog, Luke, celebrating a milestone, traveling and just being in the moment of a new experience or a new place. Like entering the caves in Goreme, Cappadocia where people lived as long as 700 years ago or having coffee in a sidewalk cafe in Seville where we could hang back and watch people come and go. Like witnessing an entire group of young children evolve into young adults right before our eyes as we attended their graduation. I just wish I could hold on to these moment for a second longer so I can savor it, roll it around in my head and feel the embrace of peace it instills in me.
They say that younger people tend to equate happiness with excitement. They need the adrenalin rush of elation. You know you’re getting older and wiser when you seek peace and calm instead and find exquisite pleasure in something more serene.
Somehow, spending time and catching up with friends is more valuable than before: Taking the time to listen and imagine what is being said in the context of the person, his/her environs, all that has happened over the years. No more self-righteous opinionated judgmental thoughts. Just quiet understanding. Time.
Have you ever considered offering your time to your loved ones and friends? To be present for them, not just physically, but in all aspects you can give, so you can hear what they’re not saying or see what they can’t seem to bring themselves to show you? Time. Like sitting with a toddler while he figures out how to stack blocks as high as he can reach. Or watching a rerun with your aging parent even if you can’t relate to the 60’s era car chases. Time. It’s a precious commodity, far more valuable than money. As the year comes to its conclusion, perhaps, we should give out increments of our time to everyone important to us. It would make for such a great gift—the gift of your time!
- Research Finds Time As A Means to Happiness (gsb.stanford.edu)
- Happiness Means Different Things (bprao.wordpress.com)
- This holiday season, just give them what they want (ctv.ca)