Defining Moments

(Another post by Leo Babauta)

There is a tendency among productive people to try to make the best use of every single minute, from the minute they wake. I know because not too long ago I was one of these folks.

Got time on the train or plane? If you’re not doing work, maybe you can be enriching yourself by learning something.

Got time before a meeting starts? Organize your to-do list, send off some emails, write some notes on a project you’re working on.

Driving? Why not make some phone calls or tell Siri to add a bunch of stuff to your calendar? Why not listen to a self-help audiobook?

Watching TV with the family? You can also be answering emails, doing situps, stretching.

Having lunch with a friend? Maybe you can talk business to make it a productive meeting.

This is the mindset that we’re supposed to have. Every minute counts, because time’s a-wasting. The clock is ticking. The sands of the hourglass are spilling.

I used to feel this way, but now I see things a bit differently.

Is This What Life Is To Be?

It might seem smart and productive to not let a single minute go to waste (they’re precious, after all), but let’s take a step back to look at the big picture.

Is this what our lives are to be? A non-stop stream of productive tasks? A life-long work day? A computer program optimized for productivity and efficiency? A cog in a machine?

What about joy?

What about the sensory pleasure of lying in the grass with the sun shining on our closed eyes?

What about the beauty of a nap while on the train?

How about reading a novel for the sheer exhilaration of it, not to better yourself?

What about spending time with someone for the love of being with someone, of making a genuine human connection that is unencumbered by productive purpose, unburdened by goals.

What about freedom? Freedom from being tied to a job, from having to improve yourself every single minute, from the dreariness of never-ending work?

An Alternative

Killing time isn’t a sin — it’s a misnomer. We’ve framed the question entirely wrong. It’s not a matter of “killing” time, but of enjoying it.

If we ask ourselves instead, “How can I best enjoy this moment?”, then the entire proposition is re-framed.

Now we might spend this moment working if that work brings us joy.

But we might also spend it relaxing,

doing nothing,

feeling the breeze on the nape of our neck,

losing ourselves in conversation with a cherished friend,

snuggling under the covers with a lover.

This is life.

A life of joy, of wonderfulness.

*Another good read from Zenhabits – if you’re not a subscriber – you might want to check out what Leo has to say…

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