It is common advice to “not wish your life away.” This refers to not looking so forward to a certain day, such as Christmas or Friday, that you totally discount the days between now and then. For example, I would “wish away” valuable days of my life if I started to obsessively countdown the days until the official kickoff of college football season. It is perfectly fine and healthy to look forward to things coming up, it is just not productive to spend all your energy awaiting them at the expense of the days inbetween.
This is very solid advice but sometimes I think we need to be just as mindful about a related way of thinking. I believe sometimes we discount the time we have left with something because we already dread it ending.
For example, when I was in Spokane this summer I didn’t fly out until 8 p.m. on our day of departure. However, instead of enjoying every minute of that extended day I spent some of it feeling bummed that I was leaving while also dreading the upcoming long flight. While taking a nice walk with my mom, playing with my niece, and eating a big steak dinner numbed some of those negative feelngs, I could have done a better job savoring the remaining hours that I had as opposed to dreading them slipping away.
With summer coming to a conclusion for teachers, Sidney is excited to return to the classroom but also a little let down that her break is nearing its end. I have tried my best to tell her that she still has actual days off to enjoy and that it is important to live each of them one at a time while not looking too far ahead. However, it is hard to buy in when you know that no matter what you do, you can’t stop time.
I think we just have to look at time slipping away, the type of time we don’t want to slip away, in psychological terms. I do this with sleep each night. If I get in my bed at 2 a.m. and I have to get up at 5 a.m., I try not to think like this: dang it, I only have three hours of sleep. Rather, I think back to when I was a child and we would make trips from where I lived in Spokane to see my grandparents in Walla Walla. It was just a three hour drive but we thought it took forever. So, when I hit the sack at 2 a.m. I tell myself this: you get to sleep for as long as it takes to drive from Spokane to Walla Walla. Putting it in those terms, it really does make me feel better…and yes, I still use that example in my head to this day.
We got to use this type of thinking on a grander scale. If you are dreading the weekend coming to an end and it is Sunday, you have to tell yourself that you still have some quality hours to enjoy. If you are on summer break and you only have a week left you have to tell yourself that a week break is still significant. It is the same duration of time as spring break, a period that during the school year sure seems really long. If you only have a day left of vacation, try to tell yourself that you have 86,400 seconds left. Conceptualize it in a way that will put your remaining time in a favorable light.
Use psychological methods to deal with a fun or great experience coming to an end but also look at it from a realistic standpoint as well. Feel good about the awesome time you had and know that life will go on and more memorable times will come. You can’t stop time but you can make the most out of it. Don’t Blink.