Four Things I Learned from Daylight Savings Time
November 7, 2010
“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.
Feedback: What would you do if you were given an extra hour every day?