We guard some things that we discern to have value with incredible force. We’d sue if someone tried to claim our property and agree that taking money should be reprimanded by federal offense. Yet, the thing that is really sacred – the thing that we really can’t ever get more of – we give away constantly, mindlessly, and without a great deal of care.
We are so disinclined to shield our mental space, our energy, the time we have in a day – yet that is all our lives really amount to in the end.
When you force yourself to stay friends with someone you can’t stand for the sake of keeping up appearances, you are letting other people rob you of your life. When you scroll through your feeds in the morning and re-check them compulsively throughout the day, you are doing it too.
When you sit and listen to your friend complain about their same problems for the thousandth time, when you belabor whether or not your Instagram account looks good enough, when you spend another Saturday night out being mindless because you don’t know what else to do, when you sit through another day of work at a job that erodes your spirit and underpays you regardless, when you reenact in a conflict you had 5 years ago in your mind while standing in the shower, when you spend your paycheck buying things to make you look different so other people won’t say you’re not attractive anymore, when you insist on being “nice” because you are afraid to be honest, when half of your mental space is taken up by little voices that are other people’s opinions and you end up stagnating in life because all the conflicting needs won’t let you move forward…
You are literally letting people rob you of your life. You are letting them slowly drain your energy, and your energy is your existence.
The trick of it is you don’t realize it’s happening. In fact, you think you want to do these things. It’s because you aren’t aware of the consequences. It’s because you don’t realize what you’re giving up. But that’s going to change now.
“No person would give up even an inch of their estate, and the slightest dispute with a neighbor can mean hell to pay; yet we easily let others encroach on our lives — worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passers-by, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.” – Seneca
What you have to understand is that it is not your time that is limited, it is your energy. You only have so much to give each day.
You only have so much willpower to extend. This means that you have to choose wisely.
It’s like that famous rock and sand experiment: when you place big rocks in a jar first, then smaller ones, then sand to fill in the spaces, it fills up entirely. When you place the sand in first, then the small rocks, and then the big ones on top, you run out of room. The analogy is this: if you let yourself be consumed by little, unimportant details, you’ll run out of energy for the big things – the important things – in life.
“Imagine this: if you had $86,400 in your account and someone stole $10 from you, would you be upset and throw all of the remaining $86,390 away in hopes of getting back at the person who took your $10? No. We have 86,400 seconds in each day. Don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the remaining 86,390.” – Unknown
Scrolling, worrying, caring what other people think, letting opinions influence your actions, giving your all to a job that won’t give you much back, trying to earn someone’s love, waiting, wondering, placating, talking yourself out of things because that’s what you “should” do… this is how you ruin your life. Not in grand sweeping tragic gestures as most people tend to fear, but in every little moment that you let yourself be robbed of your autonomy, of your awareness and of your energy.
If you want to know where you’ll be in 5 years, look at what you do every day. If you want to know how you’ll feel in 5 years, look at what you think about every day.
What you really have to spend is time, and time yields a greater return than any savings account ever could. The more you put into it, the more you get back out.