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How to slow down time

Mar 2, 2022 | Insights

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The downside of a meaningful life is you don’t want it to end. Here’s how we helped a friend come to terms with forthcoming change.
Friends came round on Saturday for an impromptu get together around the kitchen table. It was a fun and relaxed evening with good food and wine, inspiring one of our guests to ask for advice on ‘how to slow down time’.

Out of politeness, we refrained from mentioning that, in our experience, the older you got, the faster time seemed to pass! Evidently not what he wanted to hear.

In our guest’s case, he talked about how he loved his life and family and revelled in bringing up the children. We began to understand that his family helped make life meaningful and enjoyable for him, which explained why time seemed to be going so fast.

If we were heartless, we might have told him to slow down time by dropping these meaningful activities. And then, he would simply have become bored, and boredom, as we all know, makes time seem to slow down as every minute becomes a drag. So instead, we came up with some positive ideas to help him.

Letting go

Instead of clinging to what he enjoyed, we suggested that he gently let go of his longing for the present. We pointed out that his children will leave home anyway in the not-too-distant future. Of course, this will precipitate a certain amount of pain and suffering; however, walking into the fire of pain can be meaningful if appropriately handled.

We suggested the practices of reflection and conversation to help him, encouraging him to head out for a walk in the woods by himself from time to time to let his mind wander, and find a non-judgemental friend to talk to. After all, conversations with yourself or others change lives, don’t they?

The currency of time

Our friend described time as a currency, by which I think he meant it had value and agency. However, although you can accumulate money, you cannot accumulate time. You can, though, spend both time and money wisely. Coincidentally, a friend recommended Oliver Burkeman’s book ‘Four Thousand Weeks; Time and How to Use It‘ only last week, a recommendation I passed on.

My friend Lorna, who was so sadly killed in a riding accident a year ago, understood this well. She lived by a sign in her stables that read, ‘Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.’

A meaningful legacy

The children leaving home is a classic trigger for life to become meaningless, unsurprisingly, and this is where it helps to find another meaningful occupation to take you through the next phase of life.

In a way, it is possible to extend your life beyond death by leaving a legacy. Finding a new occupation that leaves a legacy could be anything from writing a book, leading a cause or building a sustainable business.Leaving much for our guest to mull over as he headed home.

Image: Getty Images

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