Embrace the Moment
One of my main goals this year has been to embrace every moment. This concept sounds deceptively simple — of course we should be embracing every moment; there is limited time left in our lives. However, upon further reflection, while many of us may know there is limited time in our lives, they do not actually use that information effectively. It is merely a fact — something they know — rather than something that influences their way of thinking. If I were to throw away a ten dollar bill in front of a friend, I could guarantee that someone would say I was crazy. Or if I were to throw away my meal I had just cooked, people would have the same reaction. Yet when it comes to time, we throw away so much of it every single day, because we forget just how valuable it is. We acknowledge that cash is valuable — that food, is valuable — but we fail to take stock of just how important our limited time is.
I have spoken about time management in previous essays — indeed, I have also touched on the topic of the shortness of time. However, I feel that it is so important that it deserves its own essay. Before we discuss the importance of staying in the moment, we must first reflect on our existing perception of time. We have a limited amount of time — a fact that many people state on a regular cadence in many forms. However, I would argue — alongside many Stoics — that we actually have enough time, it is just that we use most of it unproductively. Twenty-four hours is enough time in a day for us to make progress toward something meaningful. Over time, the conscious investment of our time will compound, and we will start to see even more meaningful results. Most people say that we don’t have enough time because most of us do not use our time effectively — we waste most of it. So therefore, to quote from the Stoic philosopher Seneca, “the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it.”
We spend a lot of our time each day on social media, or watching television, or doing something else which we simply refer to as being “busy”. Time is our most valuable resource. If we lose money, we can make it back; if we lose time, we can never regain what we have lost. A significant portion of our days is dedicated toward our vices and addictions — the things that we enjoy doing, but add very little material value to our lives. As we continue to invest more of our time in these wasteful activities, we start to more frequently remark “where has the time gone” — as if it has just passed us by without our knowing it. Indeed, that is true, because we have simply not been focusing enough on time. When we watch television, we are rarely conscious of time: we are drawn into the show or movie we are watching until it is complete.
This perception of time leads us to waste so much of our human experience. Think of how much better society would be if we all done one thing better: stayed in the moment. What if, rather than focusing on keeping up-to-date with our social media feeds, we instead focused solely on what we are doing right now? What if, before our next meeting, we done some extra preparation, or updated our to-do-list, rather than trying to reach inbox zero? Staying in the moment is the best way to get the most out of life. None of the so-called productivity “hacks” can be considered more impactful than this simple mantra. If we stayed in the moment more, we would be able to experience more of each individual moment, and ultimately make better memories about how we have spent our time.
Time is our most valuable resource, and we should never be wasteful of it. Every hour, we should be focusing on doing what we have in front of us to the best of our ability. We should focus on writing an essay, focus on being with family, focus on doing our work: we should always embrace every moment. When most people say that they want to be more productive, they actually mean that they want more time. They don’t want to get more work done, they want more time to spend on doing what matters most. They want to spend time with family, work on side projects, and pursue a path toward self-fulfillment.
Perhaps the most optimal way to develop this perception of time is to reflect on your work at the end of each day. Ask yourself “If today were my last day, would I have been proud of how I spent it?” Would you rather spend an hour scrolling through social media, or writing an essay that people could use to remember you? I think the answer is relatively obvious. Analysis is a critical part of developing a better perception of time. Think about your relationships, for example. We often say that we don’t have as much time as we would like to spend with our children, or family. Parents often contemplate the question “Where has time gone?” as their children grow up. However, upon further reflection, most people would realize that time has been with them all along, but they have simply not been using it optimally. They have been too “busy” to attend their child’s sports game; too “busy” to take them to the park. The best way to start embracing the moment is to focus on how you can spend more time on your relationships, and simply be present in every moment. Every moment is precious, and an opportunity to make a difference. Why waste any single one on anything that doesn’t matter to you?
To be direct, we don’t have time to waste on anything other than doing what makes us feel great and gives us a sense of purpose. We should spend more time on advancing ourselves — becoming a better person — and always be on a path toward making tomorrow the best day of our lives. Adopting a forward-thinking stance is critical: if we know how short our time is — and internalize that fact — then we should be thinking about how we can optimize our time usage in the future. This highlights the importance of learning. Indeed, it can be difficult to build a learning routine because the results pay off over the long-term. However, as we continue to learn more, we will start to receive dividends. We should always strive to be our best selves, because the better we are, the more we can make out of each moment. Think about how much more you could get out of tomorrow if you replaced your favorite television show with a book you want to read. To quote from Plato, “The unexamined life is not worth living” — we should spend time ruthlessly introspecting and becoming better people.
This has been something I have struggled to integrate into my life due to how much I have relied on things like social media to distract me when I am bored. However, with practice, this mantra is easier to adopt, and you start to notice the benefits immediately. Next time you go to a family event, put away your phone and focus on each conversation. Next time you go for a walk in the park, stop and simply look around and revel in the beauty of nature. Next time you go to watch television, consider how much better your life would be if you instead read a book, and then stay in the moment while you are reading it.
Reflect on your life. Focus on being your best self. Embrace each moment.