In our continuing series, GNN-i looks at Gratitude and how it is essential for creating the life you want. Harry Tucker uses the letters in GRATITUDE, as an acronym to help us remember what attitudes are most important. Part 4 reveals the first T in gratitude represents Time. How we choose to invest time and spend it is critical for our success. Time, in Harry’s opinion, is one of the most valuable things that we have, right behind Life itself and unconditional love…
The reason I believe time is so important is because we are all born with a finite amount of it allotted to us and we don’t know how much we have left. Further, once spent, time can never be recovered.
Given that time is so valuable, one of the means by which we express gratitude towards Life is to spend our time wisely. Spending it wisely means investing it in ourselves and those around us.
We often spend time frivolously on things that do not contribute anything in a positive way. It is always nice to spend a little down time once in a while, but when it becomes a habit to waste such an incredible gift, we are not being grateful for the precious gift we’ve been given.
One of the things I noticed when I lived and worked in the New York City area was how fast time moves. Life down there is a fast-paced, grab-at-it-and-hold-on-for-dear-life ride. For many, it is a life dedicated to winning the rat race, making the most money, and climbing the fastest up the career ladder or social scale. The problem, says Lily Tomlin, is that even if you do win the rat race, you’re still a rat.
If climbing the career ladder is so important, why do we never hear someone on their deathbed lamenting that they didn’t spend enough time in the office?
We need to be more appreciative of time with our children, with our families, with our friends and with nature. We need to make sure that we savor those moments, experiencing the "now" of a moment, and not be consumed by worry or thoughts about a future or past moment. When we are in the now, we are expressing our gratitude for the moment that is gifted us. An old saying from the Inuit people reminds us that the real power and joy can only be in the present moment: "Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow is wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly."
In fact, I would suggest that we are not worthy of the moment if we don’t appreciate it. How many times do we look back at our past and regret not appreciating some moment, taking advantage of some opportunity, being with someone or doing the right thing? At least if we do our best to appreciate what is in the now, we have a much better chance of minimizing regrets later. If you make the most out of every moment, you can look back on your life and marvel at how busy and treasure-filled your life experiences were.
Sometimes we need reminders of how much time we have left and that reminds us of its value. In March of 1996, I was told that I had non Hodgkin’s lymphoma and that I had 3 months to live. It’s rough news when you are 31 and you realize that the important things that many of us take for granted were going to be denied me: seeing the kids going to college and kids getting married, having kids of their own and many other wonders. I always knew how important time was, but when you know you have 3 months left, you sure figure out how to prioritize. I’ve never forgotten the need to revisit my life priorities every day.
I hope you can cherish your time without the need for such dramatic reminders.
Take care and be well. Harry Tucker