The defining problem of human existence: we’ve been granted the mental capacities to make almost infinitely ambitious plans, yet practically no time at all to put them into action.
It turns out that when people make enough money to meet their needs, they just find new things to need and new lifestyles to aspire to. Hey never quite manage to keep up with the Joneses, because whenever they’re in danger of getting close, they nominate new and better Joneses with whom to try to keep up. Soon busyness becomes an emblem of prestige. For almost the whole of human history, the entire point of being rich was not having to work so much.
Every decision to use a portion of our time in anything represents the sacrifice of all the other ways in which you could have spent that time, but didn’t.
Meaningful productivity often comes not from hurrying things up but from letting them take the time they take, surrendering to what the Germans call Eigenzeit, or the time inherent to a process itself.
But to describe attention as a resource is to subtly misconstrue its centrality in our lives. Most other resources on which we rely as individuals (food, water, electricity) are things that facilitate life, and in some cases it’s possible to live without them, at least for a while. Attention, on the other hand, just is life; your experience of being alive consists of nothing other than the sun of everything to which you pay attention.
There will be a last time that you visit your childhood home, or swim in the ocean, or have a deep conversation with a close friend. Yet usually there’ll be no way to know, in the moment itself, that you’re doing it for the last time.
We’re made so uneasy by the experience of allowing reality to unfold at its own speed that when we’re faced with a problem, it feels better to race toward a resolution -any resolution really, so long as we can tell ourselves we’re “dealing with” the situation, thereby maintaining the feeling of being in control.
Three rules for harnessing the power of patience: develop a taste for having problems. Embrace radical incrementalism. And originality lies on the far side of unoriginality.