Four Things I Learned from Daylight Savings Time

November 7, 2010

“A well spent day brings happy sleep.”Leonardo da Vinci

When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

When I woke up today, I realized that daylight savings time had ended, and last night was the night that we “fall back” and get an extra hour.  I know that in the spring, we lose an hour, but there’s still a certain magic in this “extra hour” business.

One day out of the year, we are granted a free hour that we otherwise would not have, and the vast majority of us leave our alarms set for the same time, roll the clock back, and spend that extra hour asleep.  What does it say about us that the best use we can think of for an extra hour is to sleep through it?  What can this extra hour teach us?  Here are four things that daylight savings time has taught me:

We do too much. Americans are famous for packing our days, weeks, months, and years as full as absolutely possible with work, school, social engagements, sports, and other activities.  We are chronically overscheduled.  In a culture where each day is overfull, one of the few things we don’t get enough of (let alone have in excess) is sleep.  Slow down, get the rest you need.  You’ll get more out of everything you do if you’re rested.

Our priorities are out of whack. When we choose to spend that hour asleep, we prioritize the ordinary over the extraordinary and the routine over the  exceptional.  We would rather wake up at our normal time (by the clock) and proceed as we would on any other day than wake up at our normal time (by our bodies), get a jump start on our day and use that hour to engage with the world, ourselves, or our loved ones.  Give credit where credit is due.

We take things for granted and disconnect. By choosing the routine over the exceptional, we disconnect with the reality of our own lives.  A day with an extra hour is not like every other day, but we treat it as one.  Likewise, we miss many opportunities, whether professional, personal, or recreational simply because we are not actively looking for what makes each day unique.  Focusing on the uniqueness of each day forces you to engage and gives you something to celebrate.  If every day is a special occasion, every day is a cause for joy.

Making time is worth it. Think about your weekly routine.  Are there activities or commitments that you dread?  If there are, think about cutting them out.  Give yourself those extra hours, and use them for something that brings you joy.  Think about how much you’d benefit from reclaiming the mental space that those unpleasant things take up.  Be good to yourself.

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Feedback: What would you do if you were given an extra hour every day?

6 Responses to “Four Things I Learned from Daylight Savings Time”

  1. kymber Says:

    Nice post Ware. Good stuff to think about. If I had an extra hour every day (I would also require a small space of my own) I would spend it making art. That’s an easy one for me. This morning, I popped out of bed early, as we are in New York and spent an extra hour visiting with our dear friend Debo. We don’t get to see her nearly enough.

  2. Karen Says:

    I spent my hour going for a run.😀


  3. Oddly enough, I’ve changed my schedule for the month of November, spending the couple of hours before bed working on NaNoWriMo. (Yes, it’s a cheesy reason to change my schedule, but I’ve been keeping up with it, and I’m working at a much better pace than I ever have before!) It’s caused me to stop my evening channel surf, retreat into my cave and work before bed. As a result, I’ve been going to bed earlier, too.
    Honestly, I didn’t notice the time change until this morning, when I woke up convinced I was late for work… an hour early.


  4. I’m so glad to see how everyone is spending their hour in something that has personal meaning for them. Also, I’d just like to say how much I appreciate everyone’s thoughtful responses. I was out late that night and was actually awake for the rollback, which I spent reconnecting with a friend I don’t see much anymore.

  5. Evan Says:

    I spent it at a feast of rare coffee, expensive wine, fine beer, and fall-off-the-bone veal (among some other tantalizing). Usually don’t eat veal if only for the moral standpoint, but it was a meal to remember.

    • Evan Says:

      One thing I’ve been taking for granted that I have come to celebrate is the weather. Not the warm weather, already love the hell out of that, but the cold, dark, windy days. Before I couldn’t stand them, but I have very recently discovered that I LOVE jogging in the cold, much more than in the warmth. It motivates you to keep going so you stay warm, the bite of the icy air in my lungs, it makes me run farther and longer than usual and I recover much faster. Bravo for cold weather!

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