Now

“The time is now…”

“No time like the present…”

“Just do it…”

Familiar phrases all, often used with the intention to inspire, with a hope that they will promote and propel people to act. Such phrases impress on us that the only time to act is now, that the present moment is where you live your life and that is where you can impact it most.

But exactly when is “now”?

The German psychologist and neuroscientist Ernst Poppël suggests that our perception of the present moment, of “now”, is a period of time three seconds long. That’s a small packet of time. By four seconds we are starting to experience the past, and a mere one or two seconds is perceived to be our future.

Of course, as soon as we’ve opened our packet of time and gobbled down the three seconds of “now” we’re onto the next, and the next, and the next… The three seconds constantly refreshes so we have no perception that “now” is only three seconds long.

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To Be Still…

A photo by Mathias Reed. unsplash.com/photos/wEoRDzrgmT8

We are all on the move. The pace of life seems to be forever increasing. Life is fast, work is busy. Too much to do in too little time.

Our lives are a frenetic ball of activities bouncing from day to week, week to month, month to year. And it doesn’t ever seem to stop.

When was the last time you had a moment of pure stillness? A time when you didn’t need to be somewhere, do something, speak to someone? When you could just be still? Is it even possible to be truly still?

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Life Is Not A Game

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Like many millions of people, I love to play video games. I enjoy them; they’re fun, they’re engaging, they’re distracting. I can easily get obsessed with what level I’m on and how I’m progressing.

It’s good to progress, it feels great to level-up, but lately I realised that I was feeling a sense of achievement, when in fact I’d achieved nothing.

That’s the power of a good game – it makes me feel like I’ve achieved something in my life when, in fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve achieved nothing, or at least nothing that I actually had on my to-do list.

I’m sure many people have things they want to do, things they want to achieve, but getting a certain level on Candy Crush probably isn’t one of them. If that’s what you want, then go ahead and do it. There’s no harm in it. Be my guest.

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When We Can We Will

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We all have things we want to do, things we want to achieve. Changing career, learning a language, clearing out the spare room. Some of them are big, some of them are small. Some are dreams, some are goals, some are just “stuff”.

We all also have reasons we don’t get round to doing some, or all, of these things. We seem to be under some sort of illusion that there is a time in the near future when we will “get round to it”, a magical time called “when we can, we will”.

I couldn’t count how many times I’ve fallen into the trap of “when I can, I will”; there are a couple of things on my goals list that seem firmly entrenched in that position. No one is perfect, right?!

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Time: Capital or Income?

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“How are you spending your time?”

“Has it been a valuable use of your time?”

“Time is money, you know.”

We use economic terms to describe our use of time, so why not extend the economic terms to our definition of time, not just our usage? Do you consider time to be capital or income?

How you view your time can impact significantly how you spend it. If you view time as income, then it is in essence never ending. Yes, we all know that eventually our time “comes to an end”, but that point is hopefully far off in the distance. And we don’t want to morbidly spend our time considering our demise. But if you view time as income, it gets refreshed, every minute, every hour, every day, week and month. There’s always more time, in the same way that our income gets refreshed each month (hopefully!).

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The “Five Ones”

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If you’re like most people, you’ll probably have a lot of things going on in your life and work right now. As a result you’ll doubtless be facing a variety of priorities. I’ve written before about how challenging (and ridiculous) it is to have more than one priority at any given time.  Nonetheless, the reality is that you will likely have more than one important thing to do right now.

It can be difficult knowing where to start; how do you focus in on the most important priority and move forward?

The first thing to do is to get all your priorities, and the ‘things’ you have to do, or want to do, and reduce the list down to five items. That may seem impossible to those who have a list of priorities that might run to hundreds of items, all of which MUST be done. But trust me, it can be done…

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The Nearness of Now

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There is nothing closer to you than the present moment – the right now – and it connects you with every other human being on the planet. It doesn’t matter if they are on the other side of the world or sitting right beside you; billions of human beings are existing, living, hoping and dreaming, just like you. Right now. Geography divides, making us feel distant and disconnected, but time brings us all together. Consider how everyone can remember where they were when…

There are so many ‘whens’. Celebratory and happy ‘whens’, such as the turning of the millennium or seeing a particular nation triumph in the World Cup, as well as sad and sobering ‘whens’, such as acts of terror or natural disasters. Whatever the ‘when’, such moments in time have the power to unite us. We experience life together, not separated by geography and immediate concerns. Those moments stay with us throughout our lives; they shape who we are and who we become.

We often think of time as flowing like a river, on which we travel from the past through the present and into our future. But perhaps it’s more that our boat is anchored to the present, and the water passes beneath us. We don’t move, we always remain in the moment.

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You Have Something To Do

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7 billion human beings exist right now. Our hearts beat the same. We all look up at the same sky and see the same stars, the same moon. We all live in the same time: right now. One other thing unites and binds us all together, no matter what our race, religion or location: every one of us, right now, has something to do. Even if that something is ‘doing nothing’.

Right now someone is choosing a wedding dress, someone is choosing the starter for their meal, someone is quitting their job, someone has to decide whether to forgive an unfaithful partner, someone is putting fuel in their car, someone is giving birth, someone is being born, someone is reading a book, someone is looking for shoes to go with their outfit, someone is working out where their next meal will come from, someone is wondering how they will make it through the night… From the momentous to the mundane… the list of activities is, well, 7 billion long.

So, you have something to do. Sometimes it’s unpleasant. Sometimes it’s dull. Sometimes it makes you smile. Sometimes it makes you feel like every fibre in your being is exactly where it is meant to be right now. Sometimes you realise that these times are the ones that matter. These times. This time. Right now…

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This Is Not A Number

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I love numbers. They’ve always fascinated me. I don’t know why, but there it is.

I enjoy using numbers to understand things differently and play around with different concepts, For example, the life span for a great many animals is somewhere between two and three billion heart beats. Whilst this is a broad range (for an average human heart beat it puts life expectancy between 53 and 79 years), it underpins the point that the slower heart rate equates to a longer life.

For me, numbers have really interesting qualities: they are so important to all of us in so many ways and they integrate their way into our lives without us even knowing it. Some numbers mean more to us than others, such as the number of years we’ve been alive, the number we see when we step on the weighing scales, the number that arrives in our bank every month (and then quickly leaves our bank!). When talking about almost every aspect of our lives, I find it’s almost impossible to avoid numbers.

Some numbers are so huge that you don’t see them often; some calculators can’t display numbers over a billion. Whilst computers can display far larger numbers than the humble calculator, I’ve been fascinated on more than one occasion with finding the largest number I can get a computer to display using the built-in calculator app. I did this the other week and, as I multiplied incredibly large random numbers by other incredibly large random numbers, the computer continued to display dizzyingly larger numbers… until something happened that I’d never seen before.

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I’ll Have The Lobster

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Lobsters tend to be quite an expensive dish; there seems something decadent about ordering lobster in a restaurant. Personally, I’m not a fan: aside from not liking the taste, I confess that I’m put off by the multitude of surgical-style implements needed to tease the meat out of the shell.

But, in the 19th century, things were a little different. Back then, lobsters were so plentiful that they were often served to prisoners, fed to the staff working in some of England’s stately homes, and even ground-up and used as fertiliser on fields. They certainly weren’t seen as the luxury food item that they are today.

Whilst I’m unsure if anyone could have predicted the turnaround in fortunes for the once humble lobster, one thing is certain about the world around us – things change. They don’t stop changing, they never stop evolving.

Technology, food, fashion, art, science – change and progression never ends. Turn on the news or open a newspaper and you’ll see that not a day goes by without something changing.

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