Grandfather Clock. Photo by Brandy Little.

Spending Time vs Wasting Time

In Life by Brandy Little

Every single choice and action you make is a trade-off. This means you are constantly giving up something to gain something else. Your time and energy is a type of currency that you use daily to barter with, and it is finite. You trade one hour of sleep for an hour more with a friend. You trade four years of full-time working for four years of going to college. You trade 30 minutes of watching television for 30 minutes of working out. You give your time value. You decide what it is worth whether you know it or not, with every decision you make.

“Living your life to the fullest,” comes down to optimizing the utility of the tradeoffs you make. You want to make “purchases” that will maximize your life happiness at the lowest cost possible. Begin thinking about every choice you make as a trade-off for something else. For each decision, take your goals, your humanity, and your morality into account. Find what is important to you, what is worth your time. Sometimes you will be willing to spend more and sometimes you won’t. Sometimes you will have to take a gamble with limited information and hope it was time well spent.

Park in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Brandy Little.

Park in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by Brandy Little.

This is the difference between wasting time and spending time. It is mindful living – actively participating in every moment that which you are breathing. As long as you are aware of the value of your time and choose to spend it, then you are not wasting it. Playing a game for three hours because you decided that was what you needed and would benefit you most rather than spending than three hours doing something else, is not wasting time.

Dungeons and Dragons. Photo by Brandy Little.

Dungeons and Dragons. Photo by Brandy Little.

And this is different for everyone. Remember, you decide what your time is worth, and that is different than someone else. Just like currency, some people are fine with spending $50 for a pen, while others would spend no more than $2. Priorities vary between people. The issue arises when people don’t think about their time at all. These are the people that end up spending $10,000 on a pen, and would never have spent that much on one if they were paying attention.

To put it another way, take out all the cash from your savings account or wallet, and light it on fire. Hopefully, you did not actually light it on fire because you understand that is a stupid thing to do without sound reason. When you are not “living your life to the fullest,” you are in essence setting your time and energy on fire, pointlessly destroying it.

While your time is a fixed an unknown amount, your time cannot be spent all at once. At any point, you can decide to start making conscious investments. You need balance. Sometimes you need to spend time on things that will give you momentary bliss, sometimes you need to spend time in ways that will bring bigger benefits down the road, and sometimes you need to spend time doing things you hate.

The important takeaway is to give value to your time and energy and live mindfully. Your goal should be to fatten every moment by making tradeoffs that you believe will make you happiest. Consider what you can live with, what you can live without, and what is most important to you. Balance future and present rewards, and what their value is to you. Time well spent can include being there for friends and family, watching television, working, studying, reading, dancing, volunteering, or anything else, so long as you recognize the trade-off and value of your moments. Make worthwhile investments and trades, and you’ll never waste time.

Ryoan-Ji, Japanese Rock Garden, Photo by Brandy Little.

Ryoan-Ji, Japanese Rock Garden, Photo by Brandy Little.

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“Do more of what makes you happy.” – Unknown