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Do you love life? (Quote of the Month, June 2010)

Do you love life? Then do not squander time,
for that’s the stuff life is made of.

– Benjamin Franklin

I find this quote very interesting… and somewhat difficult to grasp. First of all, what does it mean that life is made out of time? Well, we were born, we live and someday we will die. The time span between our birth and our death encompasses all our life (at least on Earth). Life is short. No matter how long we will live, our life will flew us by. We have limited amount of time to live our lives. To do what we want, to enjoy life, to build, create, learn. So, time is precious. If you love life you should not squander the time you have.

And how do you squander time? For example: is playing guitar a waste of time… or not? My take on it is that it really depends on your goals. Let’s say that you want to become a great guitar player and you diligently practice every day? Then this is not squandering of time. Every mastery requires a massive imput of energy and time and if you want to become a master in certain area you have to practice a lot. Let’s say that you don’t want to become a great player; you just play for your enjoyment and relaxation. This is not a waste of time either. There may come no tangible result from you doing it, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. (Don’t forget to the other side of the equation though: all play and no work makes Jack a mere toy).

A real waste is when you do something that you neither enjoy nor do you know a purpose behind why you are doing it. When you are not doing it because you want to learn or do something constructive or enjoyable but because you just want to kill some time. Or because other people have told you that you should do it even though you don’t want to (let’s assume you are a grown up and you can decide for yourself). Or when you are doing it compulsively because you are caught in habitual patterns of thoughts and actions that are governing your life.

So, to answer a question whether you are squandering time, you should answer these questions: what are your goals in life and what is your main life purpose? (Finding your life purpose is a topic for another post.) What are your intentions behind doing certain activity? Does it take you closer to your goals or does it distancing you from your goals? If it serves no purpose, is it at least enjoyable? If you find that certain activity is not getting you closer to your goals and it doesn’t serve the purpose of enjoyment and relaxation either, then you are probably squandering your time.

*Originally: Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.