Friday, August 31, 2007

Are You Wasting Time?

Excerpted from Inspiration from a Blind brought to you by

For this issue, I want to talk about time, specifically how we waste such a precious resource. Below is excerpted from one of my forthcoming books.

We all know that time is a precious resource. (You do, do you not?) But quite often enough, our actions do not match our belief and thought on the matter. We do things that waste our times while putting what we should do way behind us--right at the back of our minds. Sure, you need to relax and not to work all the time, but I am referring to the activities you often automatically do without giving much thought to it. Relaxing and meditating are productive; smoking, gambling, and sitting in front of your television set for an extended period of time are not. Below I will briefly touch upon the most common time wasters we encounter, some of them you may never have realized as such.

Smoking is a huge time waster. All you can do while you are smoking is, well, smoke--unless you are one who does deep thinking about life's issues during smoking. Not only is smoking wasting your precious time, it is costly to both your health and pockets, but your health is what it is mostly costing.

Gambling could be fun if it is not done excessively and especially if it does not involve money--so, yes, gambling is a no-no. It is an extremely expensive time waster. It is an activity that can potentially cost you everything. Many people sell their belongings and go through heavy debt and financial burdens and troubles as a result of excess gambling.

We all know what drinking too much can do to you. Social drinking is perfectly fine. Many people become aggressive and do silly or dangerous things on impulse when too much alcohol gets into their system.

As for watching too much television--quite a few people have been guilty of it, but I am glad to say that I am not one of them. Watching one or two hours of television is perfectly fine, especially if the content is educational or entertaining without corrupting your mind. Television viewers are exposed to so much inappropriate content nowadays that young audience are taking them as the norm--and sadly, many have become the norm in our society--and they feel whatever they see on television--including murdering and raping their classmates--is acceptable. Television watching used to be a safe source for education and entertainment. Now it has turned into a source where parents have to guard what their children see. Sitting on your couch in front of your television, with a bag of popcorn (it may be your third serving)--is not only wasting your time but filling your mind and tummy with valueless fillers.

There are plenty of other time wasters that people do, and they can also do you harm if they are done excessively. Vanity and paying too much attention to your outward appearance does not only waste your time but it also wastes your true self. We are the way we are born, but sadly, not everyone likes to accept the way they are. Instead, they hide themselves under false coloring and heavy makeup, and some go to the extreme by having plastic surgery and receiving implants that are risky to their health, not to mention to their banks. How come it is so hard to accept the way we are? Why can we not realize what truly count are the values we hold inside? Everyone can become a beautiful paper rose. What good is that when it does not hold any inner worth? While I do not have anything against fixing yourself up a bit to look presentable, being fake and artificial is not desirable. Everyone wears different clothing--some with floral designs, some with stripes, while others wear solid colors. Just as you would not judge someone by what they wear, you should not judge someone by their natural outward appearance. How we naturally look is the clothing we are born in. So accept the clothes life supplies you. Always value what is inside of you and others. If other people cannot accept you and they instead judge you by your appearance, then too bad for them!

Speaking of being fake, fake gentility is another of those things that wastes your time. You might not have thought of it wasting your time. But think about it, everything you do uses time, so pretending to be someone you are not is no exception. Pretense is void; it holds no value in itself, and someone who lives with pretense lives with no meaning. It is not the same when you grit your teeth to be polite to someone you do not quite like. Fake gentility is pretending to be a different person all the time in front of many people. You are, in turn, living someone else's life, not your own.

And that brings us to the activity of showing off. As with fake gentility, it wastes your time as you perform a void task. Being arrogant and snobby also falls under this category.

Worry can be harmful when every second counts. You are letting time slip away when you fret over an urgent matter.

Gossiping and spreading rumors can waste your time as well. While chitchatting with your friends is fun and memorable, spreading the untruth is not a wise way to spend your time.

Complaining is yet another automatic time waster we do. Does complaining fix whatever you complain about? Of course, it is fine to get what is bothering you off your chest, but complaining and being upset and angry about something over an extensive period does not only waste your time but is not good to your mental health and spirit.

Fighting and bickering can be the same as being angry or upset, but with a much worse physical and mental effect. Violence, either done verbally or physically, but especially the latter, is never a way to successfully resolve a problem.

We measure time by calculating what we have achieved through time. Each day can be very different. You may be very productive one day and the next day you become a couch potato. When you use up your time by doing the mentioned time wasters, even though you have spent a lot of time, none of the time has been put to good use.

So how do you know that you are not doing something that wastes your time? To find out, ask yourself the following questions.

1. Am I learning something? Learning is not just about book material--you can learn about a life matter or a new perspective on an issue. So if you spend five hours on a computer, and most of that time, you are learning something, then you will not be wasting your time.

2. Is what I am doing morally acceptable? It is important to use your time to being a good person; time spent on goodness is the most worthwhile time spent ever. By doing something immoral wastes away your value. You may think, how what I am doing can be unacceptable when everyone else I know does it. Does that make the activity morally acceptable? Just because many people do the same thing does not mean what they do is morally right.

The third way to find out if you have not wasted your time is to see how you feel after you have performed the activity. Do you feel spiritually cleared and rejuvenated, and are you more happy and relaxed? Do you feel content after the task? Do you overall feel truly good about yourself afterward? If you feel in some way empty and uneasy means that you have not spent your time wisely. It is especially true if you feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell others what you did.

The reason why some people are good friends with time wasters is because they do not realize the importance and value of every minute of time. In essence, they do not understand the importance and value of life. When you truly want to live a worthwhile life, you will be able to know how to identify time wasters, and therefore, never let them take up your time.

So be a lover of life and scorn those time wasters!

Until next time, be sure to spend your time wisely. Once time is gone, it's gone forever.

Shirley Cheng,

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