11 Apr How to Make the Most Out of Life – Motivational Podcasts
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Now, let’s move on to today’s reading, which was edited and adapted from The Aim of Life by Philip Stafford Moxom, published in 1894.
Today, I want to talk with you of time and how to save it. Why should we save time? Because time is opportunity for life, and time lost cannot be recovered; it is lost forever. Each moment comes to us rich in possibilities, bringing to us duty, privilege, and the call for achievement. All life is condensed into the moment that we call “now,” and the wasting of a moment is, for that moment, the wasting of a life.
“Dost thou love life?” said Poor Richard, “then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
The chief interests of life are moral and spiritual; all else is scaffolding and instrument; all else takes its significance from these. Not knowledge and achievement, but character and destiny, are life’s fundamental concerns; and in relation to these, time has a transcendent value.
“We all complain,” said Seneca, “of the shortness of time; and yet we have more than we know what to do with. Our lives are spent either in doing nothing at all (or doing nothing to the purpose), or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them.”
Among all our economies there is none, perhaps, more important, and none less understood and less wisely practiced, than a true economy of time. What is it to save time? It cannot, like money, be hoarded; it can be saved only by the manner in which it is spent, for spend it we must.
Time spent in recreation, or in seeming idleness, is not necessarily wasted; proper recreation and rest of body and mind are necessary elements of a true economy of time.
“Take rest,” said Ovid; “a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop of corn.” On the other hand, time spent in work is not always saved; work is waste if it be done at the expense of needed recreation. Often time is wasted because it is devoted to work that were better left undone. Trivial and needless tasks (tasks that are invented merely to give essential indolence the appearance of industry) belong to the spendthrift of time. How much work is but time elaborately thrown away!
Saving time is using time in accordance with those physical and moral and spiritual laws under which we are to attain our ends and fulfill our destiny as children of God. With this fundamental principle of economy in mind, let us consider the question: How may we save time?
We may save time by putting it to its best use. The best use of time is determined by the true aim of life. If acquisition of wealth is the supreme aim, then the best use of time is its persistent expenditure in planning and striving to win and accumulate money. But money is only temporal in value, and even in time its worth and use are limited. Besides, we are not meant to live here always; this world is but a scene of preparation for another.
Money, like every other material thing, derives its chief value (we may even say its entire value) from its possible use in the service of the spirit. The earth is the sphere, but in no sense the goal, of humanity’s best aspiration and endeavor. It is a pedestal for us to stand on as we look up, but not a god for us to worship; it is opportunity and instrument, not an end.
Sad indeed are the people who, making the world their chief good, gain the world and lose themselves: the true, spiritual self, in which life attains a divine fulfilment.
The best use that we can make of time is to spend it in fulfilling the divine will. Time then becomes not so much the prelude as the beginning of eternity. The old preachers used to lecture much on the necessity of preparation for death, but the preparation we most need is for life. Right living today is the only rational preparation for death, or whatever may come after death.
Whatever use of time hinders the development of our spirits in wisdom, purity, and unselfishness, is an abuse and waste of time. Whatever use of time brings to us knowledge and skill in doing good, broadens our minds and enlarges our hearts, brings righteous purpose to birth, and enriches human life with beneficent activity, is a true economy of time.
Every effort of thought that elevates the soul; every deed or word that makes life milder, and sorrow less bitter, and evil less prevalent — saves time. The rest which restores our exhausted strength; the amusement which freshens our jaded faculties; the meditation which fills the soul with pure and lofty ideas; the self-examination which produces true self-knowledge and the impulse continually to improve our characters; the endurance that makes heroism a habit; and the endeavor that increases day by day the sum-total of human good — all this is time put to its highest use.
If our purpose in life be right, there will be no want of opportunity to use well all the time given to us. The ordinary relations and experiences of our lives afford abundant scope for our best powers, and the progress of civilization continually opens up new channels for the exercise of developing capability.
To the earnest soul life is rich beyond price. When we think of all that we may do and become for humanity, how valuable time becomes and how short it seems! But the terms “long” and “short” have little meaning when applied to the life of the soul. We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; in feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart-throbs. The individual who most lives, thinks most, feels the noblest, and acts the best. Time misspent is not lived, but lost.
We may also save time by controlling it. This, often, is difficult to do. In the bread-winning work of life many must put the larger part of their time at the disposal of others; but the control of time should not be so completely relinquished as to allow it to be expended in unworthy ways and for evil ends.
If you sell your time to an employer for a certain wage, you ought not to sell it so entirely that you may make it wasted time. Aside from the demands of the main occupation which supplies material needs, there is much time (though it be only in fragments) that may be saved for the best uses.
William Matthews, in his admirable book, “Getting on in the World,” gives an instructive list of great people who did much of the work for which they are remembered by economizing odd moments. “Benjamin Franklin,” he says, “stole his hours of study from meals and sleep, and, for years, with inflexible resolution, strove to save for his own instruction every minute that could be won.” There is scarcely anyone who cannot steal a few minutes each day for solid self-improvement.
For example, thirty minutes a day diligently spent in reading will enable one in a year to go through profitably twenty good books of average size. That is more, I presume, than most of you have read of serious literature during the past year. Just as a little time can be secured each day for instructive reading, so also a little time can be found for meditation and prayer. It is only by a watchful conservation of the minutes that many of us can secure the growth in knowledge and spiritual insight on which real usefulness and a happy life depends.
In addition, everyone can save time for helping others — for doing those deeds of neighborly kindness, and speaking those words of sympathy and encouragement which are so powerful for good in the lives of the people around us. “Life is not so short,” said Emerson, “but that there is always time enough for courtesy.” Time spent in unselfish ministry to the real needs of others is never time lost, but time saved. Such expenditure never impoverishes but enriches the spender.
We may also save time by taking time to prepare for our life’s work. We live in a time when everyone seems to be in a hurry. All too slowly we learn the lesson that haste makes waste — of life as well as of materials. Green lumber shrinks, and, put into the house before it is seasoned, leaves gaping cracks to mar the beauty and lessen the strength of the building. Untempered mortar in the hastily built wall necessitates continuous and expensive repairs, or insures speedy decay and ruin.
Learn this lesson well, that time spent in seasoning and fitting yourself for the serious business of life is not time wasted, but time saved. For example, if you are called to teach, take time to make yourself capable to teach, out of the fullness of your own knowledge and the force of your own disciplined strength.
The principle that good work demands thoroughness of preparation, and that adequate preparation is a true saving of time, is applicable to every important vocation. We may save time by choosing a definite aim and by concentrating our energies in the line of that aim.
The first condition of a right and efficient life is to know exactly the end for which you are living, and to maintain inflexibly your purpose of living for that end. Many people do not find their proper work till middle life, or even later; or having found it, they lack the necessary tenacity of purpose to do that work. Meanwhile they waste much time and strength in vainly attempting to do work for which they are not fit, and at last sink into a state of chronic discontent and hopeless inefficiency.
Save time by early defining your specific work and by concentrating your energies on that work.
Finally, we may save time by doing today the duty that belongs to today. Each day brings its peculiar opportunities for doing good. Procrastination is the thief of power and happiness, as well as of time. Here, at your side and mine, are needs that appeal for such ministry as we can give. Now is always “the acceptable time.”
Heal the hurts of today, and save tomorrow’s pain. Speak the true, kind word today, and save tomorrow’s regret when ears deaf with death cannot receive the tardy tribute of appreciation and sympathy. Bestow your charities now, when with them will go the force of your personal interest and influence. Rich people often plan to make large benefactions when they are dead, and waste the opportunity of making richer gifts while they live.
The dead hand may scatter gold, but the living hand scatters with the gold that is of greater worth. We shall save time by cultivating not only a higher estimate of present opportunities and duties, but also a warmer and more generous appreciation of present companionship.
Too often we prize our friends only when they are gone. Death lays its finger on the lips of fault-finding criticism and opens our eyes to previously unseen or only half-seen virtues. How true it is that we really know those about us only after they have left our side and passed beyond the reach of our praise or blame!
Many a true heart is chilled by neglect; many a willing hand is paralyzed by want of quick and sympathetic cooperation. We look into each other’s faces and see little of what is going on in the soul. The bravest and best often are least demonstrative and least given to complaining; and eyes that meet our gaze calmly, and with no tell-tale shadow of reproach or appeal, weep inwardly tears of bitter grief and unutterable longing for a little human sympathy today.
My friends, seize this moment to speak a word of comfort, a word of hope, a word of appreciation and praise! Save time by doing now the thing that ought to be done now. If you have wronged any one, right the wrong today. Do the duty that lies next. Delay is time lost; action is time saved, and a life saved.
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