What would you say is the number one stressor in your life? For most, it’s “time” and the seemingly lack of having enough or having too little control over it. I recently was listening to an interview Rick Steves (the traveling guru of Europe Through the Back Door) was having with Frances Mayes, author of “Under the Tuscan Sun”. I hope one day to go to Tuscany and figured that I might be inspired by her words.
For most (me included), Tuscany conjures up images of living slowly, basking under the golden sunshine, and relishing in the colors of the buildings and flowers of the countryside. Eating foods that are fresh and local and cooked in traditional ways. I can just imagine people comfortably relaxing at a sidewalk café enjoying a cup of espresso. They’re actually using time for enjoying life, either with friends and family or simply people watching. But time is a measure of pleasure not a measure of work for them rather than how much was accomplished.
Mayes is an American who decided to venture outside of the United States to live in Tuscany. In her interview with Steves, she comments that she wrote her book because she wanted to share with people how to be happy and enjoy the pleasures of everyday life. That’s what she was looking for when she ended up in Cortona, Italy and bought a very old villa that needed renovating.
The Concept of Time
What is it that’s different with the concept of time between that of Italy (or even France with its 4-day work week) and the U.S.? What Steves said is so poignant: “Time is thought of differently in Italy. An American’s description of time is — We “bank” it. We “waste” it. We “spend” it. We “invest” it. We “fight” it.
If we’re not checking our cell phones or watch, we’re stuffing too much activity into an hour, hoping to get it all done, but finding we’re “running over” time.
An Italian, on the other hand, “enjoys” time, “shares” time, and “savors” time. They embrace the concept that time is a river you can float on. That when you live more spontaneously, in the moment, you actually look forward to and welcome people dropping in to enjoy a conversation, a glass of wine or espresso rather than viewing their visit as a “disruption” of your time. Of course, this may be speaking to the personality preferences most prevalent in Italy. (See more information about personality typing and the MBTI®)
Simplifying Your Life is a Matter of How You Regard Time
It comes down more to having a sense that you “have” time rather than you’re going to “have to take” time. What would it mean to you to “have” time? What would you do with it?
The fact that you feel your life is overwhelming and seemingly cluttered may speak more to how you deal with time than anything else. Think of how you’re using time and decide whether your choices and your regard for time is at the root of your problem.
That’s where the MBTI®, personality typing, and the Z-Pattern of decision-making discussed in my latest book, “Is It Worth It? – Simplify Your Life with Personality Type” will help.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this method to address this issue of time and its management to make sense of a tangled world.
Hopefully, you can too!