The following is a guest post by our own Awesome Nathalie Thompson, a long time reader and now contributing author at Deliberate Receiving. The holidays are often fraught with stress and too much to do, so this post couldn’t possibly be more, um, timely. Ha.
At this time of year, I tend to make it a point to sit down and get myself organized for the coming year. And what I always seem to spend the most time trying to figure out is how I’m going to deal with just that – my time. Sometimes I wish I had the power to freeze time, just so I can get more done in a day.
And that’s really quite odd if you think about it, because with all of the time-saving gizmos and gadgets that have been invented over the past 100 years, you’d think we’d all be spending our days lounging in hammocks and sipping piña coladas, with our most pressing decisions being whether to spend the afternoon playing golf or getting a massage.
An Inquiry into the Nature of Time
I don’t, however, know anyone who actually has a life like that; despite all of our attempts to get organized and save time, most of us still tend to feel like we’re running around like loose cannons most days, scrambling to keep on top of our crazy schedules and ever-growing “to-do” lists. Time, rather than money, really has become our greatest resource.
I started to wonder why that was, and whether there was anything that could be done about it. Was it possible to channel some of the powers of the fictional Time Lords of Doctor Who, and work with time in some way to avoid all this time-related stress? So I decided to do a little research.
I was already familiar with basic time-management principles; the nuts-and-bolts of organizing time as we perceive it, and I wasn’t satisfied with what it had taught me; I was still finding it hard to deal with time. So I focused my research on modern physics; I wanted to understand the very nature of time itself. And what I discovered is that time is such a strange thing that it isn’t even fully understood by the most brilliant physicists and mathematicians on the planet; to quote the good Doctor, despite all our attempts to define and understand it, time really is just “a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff”.
Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey Stuff
In the realm of quantum physics, time is a seriously weird phenomenon. At the quantum level, the future affects the past, and things really can be in two places at once. We can even instantly transport (tiny pieces of) matter from one place to another, à la Star Trek.
And while we may perceive time as a linear progression that flows ever-onwards external to us, physics tells us that this is not the case. From a somewhat more credible source than Doctor Who (and timey-wimey stuff aside), Brian Greene, a theoretical physicist at Columbia University, says in his book The Fabric of the Cosmos that all times exist all at once, like slices in a big time loaf, with each moment in time existing as a separate slice within that loaf.
Additionally, he says that “as hard as physicists have tried, no one has found any convincing evidence within the laws of physics that supports this intuitive sense that time flows”. It would appear that time just… is. All the times. All at once. All overlapping.
Now is Then: Thoughts and Time Delay
The next thing I discovered was that what we perceive as “now” is, in fact, not really now at all. It takes time for light to reach our eyes, even from as small a distance as the other side of the room we’re in, or from the monitor we’re currently reading. So what we are seeing and interpreting as “now” actually happened fractions of a second ago, in the past.
It made me wonder whether our thoughts are even occurring in the now, given the fact that it presumably takes some amount of time from the moment our thoughts are formed, to the point that we are aware of them; if, as research is currently indicating, we have about 70 000 thoughts per day, that delay would add up.
I think this is why our emotional guidance system is so important – we can’t be aware of all the thoughts we have in a day because there are just too many of them. But we don’t need to be aware of each of those thoughts because our emotions give us a constant gauge of where our thoughts are focused without knowing exactly what each of those thoughts happens to be, which makes that time delay irrelevant.
Our Perception of Time is Subjective
In The Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene also says that “time for you need not be the same as time for me.” Melody touched on this in her post about the phrase “life is short” where she talked about how, for example, a tree with a correspondingly longer life span might perceive the passage of time quite differently than we do. And I think this is something that all of us understand at an intuitive level.
We’ve all experienced the phenomenon where time either speeds up or slows down, depending on what we happen to be doing. And we’re all familiar with such phrases as: “Time flies when you’re having fun” and “time slowed to a crawl” or “time stood still”.
It’s the idea that our perception of the passage of time can change with our thoughts about what’s happening in that time. And my interpretation of what’s happening in that time may be very different from yours. For example, if I had to watch a football game, time would likely pass excruciatingly slowly for me… it would crawl by in torturous slowness while I desperately wished I could be anywhere else. But someone who actually enjoys football would likely find the length of that game passing by “in the blink of an eye”.
Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere. All of these findings seem to lead back to perception. Our experience of time changes completely, depending on how we observe and interpret it. Time, it would appear, is mostly subjective.
Experiments with Time: Becoming a Time Lord
So this idea of time being subjective made me wonder if we can control how we experience time by changing how we think about it. For example, one of my own most frustrating experiences with time is that the more I rush, fret, and generally stress out about time, the less I seem to have of it. For example, I have two little ones and mornings can be especially stressful trying to get them up, fed, dressed and out the door in time for school.
On days when I’m feeling particular rushed, I’ve noticed that everything seems to happen to make that time crunch feel even worse; inevitably, I won’t be able to find my keys, or something will get spilled and need to be cleaned up, or my youngest child will have a last-minute tantrum that delays us all getting out of the house even further.
So I did an experiment. On a morning when we were running late and I was starting to panic about the kids being late for school, I deliberately told myself that we had plenty of time and that there was no need to rush. We ended up getting to school early, even though we were later than usual in getting started.
Time and again (no pun intended) I’ve repeated this “no rushing allowed” experiment, in different situations, and the result is always the same: time seems to stretch to accommodate me. Time itself seems to bend to the commandment that there is no need to rush; I have discovered that I am never late when I tell myself I have lots of time.
Summing it Up
If you want to gain more control of your time – if you want to be a Time Lord – all you really need to do is focus on your thoughts about time. As always, our thoughts affect our perception and emotions, our perception and emotions affect our actions, and our actions are the foundation for our physical reality. Change your thoughts and you change your perception and experience of time, which changes your actions with respect to that time. Start exercising your super-powers and make time work for you, rather than just being swept along with it!
Nathalie Thompson is the author of Seven-Minute Stress Busters and the Head Dream Catcher over at VibeShifting.com, where she helps people master the methods and mindsets of success and transform their dreams into reality. Pick up her free Build Your Best Life quick-start guide and bonus video series and start creating a life you really love, today!