Our time and how we spend it is a popular topic these days. For reasons that aren’t clear, Self Magazine has started turning up in my mailbox. I have limited patience for “women’s” magazine, especially ones with names like “Self.” Flipping through it, though, I was drawn to a series of articles about “busyness” and the stress it engenders.
It’s not a new concern. The subject of how we spend our lives and the quality of our days were on the Seneca’s mind two thousand years ago. A Stoic philosopher, Seneca was (in my opinion) something of a scold, but what he wrote in On The Shortness of Life is applicable today.
Just for fun, here’s a comparison of Seneca’s writings (or rantings) and advice for today’s women (and, I would add, men):
Seneca: How much have your lost through groundless sorrow, foolish joy, greedy desire, the seductions of society; how little of your own was left to you
Self: “[Busyness] has become a way we show our status, even as it keeps us from being our most creative, lacking the downtime that neuroscience shows is necessary to produce the aha! moment of insight.”
Seneca: Quotes an unnamed poet: ‘“It is a small part of life we really live.” Indeed all the rest is not life but merely time.’
Self: Quotes Annie Dillard: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
We can choose to rush through our days, not taking the time to spend time on the people and things we value, or we can, as Seneca writes,” squander [our time] as if we had a full and overflowing supply.
Self gets the last word—a valuable bit of advice: Choose to do one thing today, not ten. And embrace the rest [of the day] in all its ordinary and glorious imperfection.
Photo courtesy of Diet-Rite and Photobucket