The Importance of Having Time

Written by Andrew Morrison

Time Slips AwayHave you ever considered the importance of having time? After all, building a house takes time. Preparing a meal takes time. Even sleeping takes time. One thing we know for certain is that time doesn’t wait for anyone. It marches forward no matter what you or I do. However, time is something often wasted or at least not fully appreciated. There are obvious places where people waste time: scrolling through hours of Instagram posts, or getting lost in the rabbit hole that is Facebook. As much as these things concern me, they’re not nearly as big a deal to me as the less obvious and “societally correct” scenarios.

Work is a Waste of Time

Let’s look at a big one. How about wasting time at work? I don’t mean scrolling through Facebook when you should be working, I mean working when you could be enjoying life instead. Yes, I just called work a waste of time. Of course, not all work is a waste of time as there are indeed very meaningful professions out there. I also recognize that, for most of us, money is something we need in order to afford the way of life we have grown accustomed to. I have two college age kids, so I know a thing or two about expenses. But that’s not the point. The point is, much of what is billed today as work is a waste of time.

The crazy thing is that it’s a waste of time because of the end result: money. That’s right, money is the problem. Not lack of money, but money itself. Okay, maybe it’s not the root of this problem, but the stuff we buy with it is. Think of it this way: all the stuff you buy has to be paid for. As a result, you have to work to raise money to make those payments. What if you simply stopped buying so much stuff? What if you changed your focus from the need for money to the need for time?

“When you buy something, you are not paying for it with money. You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing money can’t buy.”

-Jose Mujica, the former president of Uruguay

Time is wealth, not moneyWhen Mr. Mujica’s message becomes our mantra and time becomes our focus, we can let go of the old focus (money and stuff), and our lives become that much richer. After all, why do we as consumers buy things to begin with? So that we can enjoy ourselves and our lives more. The new iPhone is supposed to make our life easier and more enjoyable. How’s that working out? The new, bigger house is supposed to make our family more secure and happier. How’s that working out? It runs out, that it’s not working very well at all.

Statistically, We Aren’t Doing Well

The data shows that people with higher debt levels, no matter what income bracket they’re in, have more stress. It’s also known that it’s not common for people on their death bed to wish they had worked harder or made more money. In the end, they wish they had spent more time with their loved ones. They wish they had not been so busy all the time and that they could have slowed down and simply enjoyed life. Right here. Right now.

The good news is that you can do just that. You can start enjoying your life right now whether you are 100% debt free or leveraged up to your ears. It doesn’t matter if your bank account is bone dry or flooded with coins and gold. Happiness has nothing to do with those things. True happiness comes from within. I know, I know…you’ve heard it all before. Maybe you have. Were you really listening though? Do you have a negative reaction when someone tells you that happiness comes from within? It’s not uncommon to have a reaction like that. The challenge is that the reaction is typically because we humans don’t like taking responsibility for ourselves when we can externalize things and wait for someone else to fix our problems. Unfortunately, you could be waiting a long time if you’re waiting on someone else to solve your problems.

It’s All About Perspective

glasses looking through forestSo how do you change the patterns of wasting time in the name of creating happiness (i.e. working away at a job you dislike to pay for the life you wish you had time to enjoy)?  It all starts right now. It’s a shift in perspective. Let’s look at the country with the highest national average annual income (averaged since 2000): Monaco. The average gross national income (GNI) is $186,950. That’s US dollars, per person.

Now let’s compare that with the lowest GNI from Burundi of $260. Both of those numbers are annual incomes. Now, imagine what your life would be like if you lived in Burundi. How about if you lived in Monaco? I imagine that you see yourself living a much more enjoyable life in Monaco than in Burundi. Is that true for you?

But here’s the problem, that’s all based on money and what you think money provides for you. What if you shifted your perspective and learned that if you lived in Monaco, you would have to work 50 or more hours per week to make that money and you would have very little time to spend away from work. Couple that with the image of spending most of your time in Burundi simply enjoying your time on this planet. In both cases, let’s assume that your food and shelter needs are taken care of. The rest is up to you to decide if it’s important. Which would you choose: more money but less time, or more time but less money?

Money Does Not Build Wealth

girl blowing bubblesRoughly 22 years ago, I traveled to West Africa. I spent some time in both cities and a remote village in Senegal where my sister was in the Peace Corps. I learned then and there that happiness was not related to money. The people whom I met in the cities seemed to be stressed out, working hard to make ends meet. On the other hand, the people I met in the remote village, who had next to nothing in terms of possessions, were BY FAR the happiest people I had ever met, anywhere. They were loving, full of smiles, engaging, and literally dirt poor (financially). They were, however, some of the richest people I have ever met when it comes to love of life and enjoying their time on the planet.

The news gets better. You don’t have to choose between more money or more time. You can have both by minimizing consumption. If you buy less stuff, you need less money. When you need less money, you can work fewer hours. If you work fewer hours, you will find more joy. When you find more joy, you will need less stuff. And so the cycle continues towards your financial freedom and the prioritization of joy in your life. Any money you make that’s above and beyond your daily needs can be put away in savings or used to buy more time. In other words, reduction in working hours and increased time enjoying life. Sound good? You bet it does.

Discover Your Current Wealth

Let’s get back to making the change right here, right now. The best way to start feeling rich is to be grateful for what you already have. There are different ways of accomplishing this, but I suggest that one thing you MUST do is start recognizing your incredible wealth, especially in comparison to the rest of the world. For example, do you have at least one meal of food in your house, right now? Do you have a house? Do you have your health and/or access to health care? For many people around the world, the answer to all of these questions is no. From that perspective, can you find gratitude for your own situation? It’s all about perspective.

Time for the Attitude of GratitudeEach day, I spend time actively finding things to be grateful for. If I experience a beautiful moment, I stop and recognize it. Even when things don’t seem to be beautiful or amazing in any way, I find the areas of gratitude. Examples: family I love, shelter over our heads, food in the fridge, a fridge!, chopped firewood, sun on our solar panels, and so on. It’s the little things that can and do change the world, from the inside out. As I recently heard said: gratitude is the antidote to suffering. I believe this to be 100% correct. When I am grateful, even for the little things, any attachment to suffering goes away.

Exercise: The Attitude of Gratitude

If you don’t believe yourself to be in a position to suddenly start finding gratitude in every moment, you can start with a simple exercise: the Attitude of Gratitude. Follow the steps below and you’ll likely be amazed at what you discover.

  1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or stand with your eyes closed for about 10 minutes (or more if you prefer).
  2. Put on some inspiring, yet background, music. Pick something that gets you going, moves your energy, or even inspires you towards something great. Maybe try out “Worth Everything Ever Wished For” by The End of the Ocean. I think it holds great energy for this exercise.
  3. With your eyes closed, take 4 deep breaths, slowly. Be sure to hold the breath for a few seconds before transitioning from inhaling to exhaling.
  4. Now, picture something in your life that you are grateful for. It could be anything; big or small. Some examples could be “my children,” “the person who carries my bags at the grocery store,” “my dog,” “the fact that I can afford to buy organic food,” or whatever else comes to mind. There is no “right” answer here.
  5. Really focus on feeling the feeling as you picture the person, situation, or thing that you’re grateful for.
  6. Now reach out your hand at full arm’s length towards the image you’re holding and gently bring that image to your chest. This is a physical action that allows your brain to anchor the gratitude in your heart.
  7. Do this for two more places in your life for which you are grateful.
  8. Repeat this exercise daily until you reprogram yourself to naturally focus on gratitude.

Find Time for GratitudeThis simple exercise will help you retrain your brain and your heart. Once you start finding gratitude in every moment, there is nothing that can stop you from loving your life, exactly as it is right now. This doesn’t mean that you can’t move to make improvements. In fact, it will likely result in improvements because you’ll be living from a place of huge gratitude rather than fear or being judgmental of others (something our world has far too much of right now).

I challenge you to do this exercise every day for the next 14 days. No matter what happens in your life, no matter how busy you are, no matter what excuses you try to make up. Do this exercise for 14 days, no matter what, and your life will never be the same. Do you have 140 minutes to spare over the next two weeks in order to change your life towards the better? The answer is yes. Yes you do, and you deserve to give yourself that time so that you can shift your life path from surviving to thriving. If you’re already thriving, then this exercise can deepen that experience even more.

Ask Yourself: “How is my life going?”

Time for JoyBe sure to answer with 100% honesty. Is your life going the way you want it to? Could it be better? Are you fulfilled? Are you getting by, but not really enjoying your life the way you had hoped you would? Is it exactly how you dreamed it would be? For many, the answer to these questions is “no”, or “sort of”. It’s rarely a resounding “YES!”

If you want your answer to be “YES!”, then you may have some work to do in order to get there. That’s fine, there’s time. Start by finding your attitude of gratitude every day for the next 14 days. See what happens. This may be a first step for you or an additional tool in your tool belt. That’s not important. What’s important is that you move forward on your journey and that you learn to inspire yourself like never before. I hope you’ll share your experience in the comments below. If we share our insights and our victories, we can inspire others to do the same. Together, as a community, the world is easier to change and joy can become our currency of choice.

Want to learn more about straw bale houses and how to build one? Want to do so for FREE? Sign up for our totally free 16 Day Straw Bale eCourse! Find out more HERE.

35 Responses

  1. Thank you for this, Andrew. I also strongly believe that it is up to us to create the backgrounds for our lives. We’ve started the process by selling our city home and moving closer to the sea. The beauty of my new surroundings brings me so much joy every day. The trappings of city life do nothing for me now. I get as much pleasure from a feather, a shell, a birds nest, the sky – as from the most expensive painting. I’m in the process of working out if I need to contribute financially for our food and basic needs, or if I can afford to work as a volunteer for one of the altruistic programs I admire – I know which would bring me more pleasure.

  2. Thank you for sharing this Bridget. I love the simple things as well. I find myself getting such pleasure from things like sunsets, golden evening sun, birds, and butterflies. 🙂

  3. Thank you for such inspirational words . I am going to work on doing this exercise every day and passing on such inspirational words to my family. I already appreciate the squirrel who eats my seeds I planted in the pots on the deck . They’re fed on topof the shed but maybe these are extra special. Thanks again for the reminder to stop and smell the roses.

  4. Thanks, You made me , make up my mind, My little farm is abandoned I was thinking in putting more hours working at the city even at my retiring age, so far like you mention,
    food end shelter is not an issue, my farm is free and clear, I only need straw bale room
    to be more confortable in summer or winter.I strongly believed in GOD, maybe was your
    message. Big Thanks, sincerely Yours Evaristo.

  5. Thank you for spreading this message andrew!
    So many people need to see things like this and wake up from the fog of consumerism!
    My wife and I made these changes in our lives 5 years ago, and have since been in heaven and with much more control over our lives and our happiness.
    I encourage anyone listening, to REDUCE your urge to use money (as a crutch), INCREASE your friends who can support you where you need help, and FALL IN LOVE with the freedom which is create by yourself and your thoughts/actions toward a resilient and connected life.
    Thanks again Andrew, MUCH LOVE!
    (im still timberframing and strawbaling in the woods.. YAY!)

  6. Many thanks for your inspiring message Andrew. That in itself has given me more motivation to pursue my dream to build a Strawbale house on my property in Tasmania Australia and to slow down and enjoy life. To get out of the Rat race of trains, buses, peak hour – yuk!. I have been following your site off and on for years and look at different strawbale houses almost on a daily basis. I hope or should say I will be in touch soon to pursue my dream of holding a workshop in Tasmania in the coming years. Take care xo

  7. I was in the peace corps in Paraguay, S. america and agree with you fully. Even without running water or electricity we enjoyed a fullness in relationships and freedom from stress that i have often longed for since returning to the States.

    Thank you for continuing to champion strawbale, tiny house and minimalist lifestyles!

  8. I know that feeling of longing the simple experience once again. We felt the same way when we returned from living on the beach in Mexico. Although “only” five months, our experience there had a massive impact on our view of life.

  9. Thanks, Andrew. I am in a time of transition right now. I spent three plus years traveling the country in my Airstream. When I stuck the 48th state sticker on my map, I realized that I wanted to go “home.”

    After being in town for three days, I saw a house I wanted to look at. I made an offer and it was accepted. The next day, I accepted an offer on my Airstream. In about four weeks I deliver the trailer and then close on the house.

    I am kind of in shock. The practice you outline might help me stay focused during this transition.

  10. I wholeheartedly agree and am pretty much living the simple life with less. Seven years ago my husband lost his arm in a work accident and as a result was no longer able to do his previous job. He has repeated medical procedures almost monthly since that time for various issue due to the injury. We had rented for years and couldn’t seem to get out of the rent trap. Last June he was approved for disability and received enough back pay to buy a few acres of land on which we intended to quickly build a straw bale house thanks to your website. We bought enough material to get started but doing it ourselves we could tell was going to be a long process and with us continuing to pay rent we couldn’t save any money. So we decided to do something that most of our loved ones thought was crazy, we took the money we had left and built a one room shack pretty much (or two rooms if you count the bathroom). We got rid of tons of our stuff, put a small amount in a garage in a box thing and moved our family into a 24*24 room with a small loft. I said all of that to say in so many ways we have never been happier or closer. We expected to be further into the building process of the steawbale house by now but weather, money and surgries have held us up some. Sometimes I wonder if I couldn’t just live here forever though. Less stuff means less time cleaning, less room means less time walking from room to room to put stuff away and I now know that truly love does grow best in little houses. Thank you for this article and all of the information you post, hopefully one day in the future we will be able to add our house to the growing list of strawbale homes.

  11. Dear Andrew, Last year I picked up a book by Wayne Dyer and started following his suggestion to write down10 things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed. I have thousands of entries with no repeats! I’ll try the gesture with the extended arm bringing the image to the heart. The mind/body connection is powerful. Writing down things I am grateful for has softened my heart towards all the vicissitudes of life. This has helped me tremendously in dealing with the recent death of my Dad. On Father’s Day weekend, I sat down in the shade with a beer after a hard sweaty day scraping and painting. I was inspired to grab a notebook and write about how grateful I was to have had 60 Father’s Days with him. Time is wealth. Gratitude and tears poured out on every page, and at the end of the essay, I was overcome with a sense of joy and peace. Gratitude is transformational!
    Hope all is well with you and your family. I think often of your Mom in Maine.

  12. I know that feeling too of staying in a small space that turns out to be perfect. We currently live in a tiny house (207 sf plus 110 sf of lofts). We LOVE it! It’s not straw, but it’s been the perfect home for the last (nearly) 4 years. You can check it out at if you’re interested. We call it “hOMe” with the OM in caps to remind us to slow down and enjoy each moment.

  13. Thanks so much for this. I don’t really know much about how straw houses are built in the states, but the way I built mine here in South Africa certainly taught me a great deal – particularly about the gratitude for being given the opportunity to build it with my family. It’s clay plastered, so being able to spend hours and hours with my two daughters and wife hauling clay plaster up to me, looking back on it, was a blessing. If anything, it’s taught me that ja sure, money can sometimes be tight, and so maybe you loose out on a few things that cannot be afforded, but time not spent in beautiful moments, because of the desire to earn money, can never be regained, no matter how hard you work to get it back, So better to live the beautiful moment….and trust that enough money will find it’s way to you, which I believe, somehow, it does.

  14. Thank you for a beautiful post. I started following you through the straw bale connection and enjoyed your move into the tiny house. This post drives to the heart of everything you’ve shared over the years. Keep up the good work.

  15. thank you for this article. my world was turned upside down with the loss of my son 4 yrs ago. my husband and I built an octagon strawbale house because that is what our son wanted to do. we carried those plans around with us for 20 yrs as I was too afraid to try building it. After he died I had to build it. now that it is built I am struggling to find purpose again. I will try the tips you provided to hopefully redirect my pain into something useful. I do have strong religious beliefs but miss my son’s smile and hugs.

  16. Donna, thank you so much for sharing your heart. I cannot imagine the grief and sorrow you must feel for the loss of your son. I have lost several friends over the years and the pain was always difficult, but none of it compared to the loss of my mother two years ago. Losing a friend is deeply sad, but losing a parent is a grief that reaches much deeper. I can only guess that losing a child creates a deeper grief than anything else.

    I have discovered the art of gratitude reaches even beyond the grave. The gratitude I have been finding for my mother and how she raised me has transcended her loss. I find such joy and comfort in those memories and I see her in my life daily. I see her in the birds that fly over me, in the music that I hear, and in the very beauty that is nature. I have had several experiences that can only be described as visitations (in a truly beautiful way) from her, as have the rest of my family. I know that there is so much more to our existence than we comprehend.

    I invite you to find the gratitude that fills you for your son. The times you had together, the smiles and hugs you shared. All of that is still alive in you and can bring such joy to your heart. We all grieve differently, so I don’t know how this will all come together for you. I only hope that you find the joy and beauty that your son still is in this world. He is not gone, he is just living in a different way than you and I are. I know this to be true through the experiences I have had with my mom since her death.

    Again, thank you for sharing yourself and your story. I hope that my experience can help you in some way. With love…

  17. Great stuff, Andrew. I am grateful for folks like you who “get it.” You are doing the world a great and needed service. I tell people that I am saving to build a straw bale house and with some of them I may as well be trying to teach a rock to roll over. They just don’t get it.

    I am looking for a couple of acres on which to build my home. I plan to attend a workshop next season and am learning all I can about straw bale.

    I’ve seen the picture of your tiny home. Very nice. How many acres do you have? I’m thinking 2 acres should be plenty of room to breathe if I’m in the right area.

    Incidentally, that is a beautiful story about the visitations from your mother. I believe in a wonderful afterlife and I think of the loved ones I have lost as having “graduated” to the next big step in our existence. I have not been blessed with visitations but I believe in them nonetheless.

    I guess this earthly life is sort of a “boot camp” to get us ready for the next life. I believe that this applies to our pets as well.

    Thanks again, Andrew! Best wishes!

  18. Andrew and all wonderful reading. I would like to offer an idea that I used when working. Free time was and is still more valuable than money. As a nurse I chose to work weekend nights and even holiday nights this was all a little higher pay and only a little less than full time. By living simply I could make it. Then latter I worked as a substitute teacher. That is another way one can choose their own days and work less and with simple living it all worked out. Thanks for all your inspiration. Buy less live more

  19. I loved your comments and do a lot of that already. I am a little bit of a workaholic and am told to slow down often. I work for a railroad up to 250+ hrs a month. Farm 1000 acres and help all my neighbors. Just finished getting one of them a new house built after his burned down in December. My wife is a nurse and works nights.have four kids that are grown from 39 to 19. If it wasn’t for the farming and the enjoyment of nature I don’t think I would be able to do this. The animals and crops and lifestyle. I have started a straw bale market that is growing. You inspire me and many more thank you

  20. there is much to agree with in what is offered, yet, at 61 struggling with the impact of consumer-based living invading the land of my Red relations 500 years ago, imposing the consumer model on people who held the land as a gift they were stewards, not owners of- how can you own your Mother? ( whitemen saw no problem at all here, she was as much a possession as their cattle)-by violence against them, I also offer more to consider than mere gratitude for what you have,. If you are more than a beast living to gratify impulse you need to consider consequences of your own action, if you want to evolve beyond animal thinking, you also need to develop a conscience toward others. Can YOU be happy living surrounded by suffering you have the means to help ease. I cannot. I have spent my life practicing what I preach about stewardship of resources, and had my efforts and time wasted by people who don’t want to change a darn thing about how they contribute to the problem, not even in bringing their own cup to starbucks, imagine if EVERYONE who claims to care about the earth in those starbucks lines sent the message to starbucks that they aren’t hypocrits, they bring their cup? Gurantee you corporate would start taking folks serious, shake in their boots probably.Read the MSN article 9/29, ” the new reality of old age in America”, when its ok for the govt to keep adding costs to poor peoples lives, add burdens and not fulfill fiduciary duty toward them, no amount of consuming less is going to make ends meet, old folks choose between food and paying medical, the poor choose between necessities to avoid govt penalities, and does anyone considering trying models that take modern changes, “improvements”/”advances” into account? Old folks and young folks joining resources? Modern society is vastly different, yet the model for society hasn’t budged from caveman. Have a chunk of land? trying sharing it, how is it yours anyway? Own your own home, let an elder couple live in their RV there. Stop the AirB&B crap and start considering others in NEED.Like I said, I’m 61, been around the block folks, its time, way past time, to stop talking about caring and start making your actions match your words. Yes, I live incredibly grateful for all the Creator has blest me with, I also live aware of others suffering, true happiness is facing reality, good and evil and choosing good. Look in the mirror and answer honestly:”what am I doing to ruin this planet and cause others to suffer for my choices?”. Then take some actual action to make amends. Otherwise just look in the mirror and say ” the world would be better if THEY would change” and go right on happily contributing to destroying life on earth.

  21. Thanks for reaching out David and for all you do for your community. Clearly you are a vital part of life in your area. I appreciate you connecting and sharing a bit of yourself with us here. Cheers.

  22. Thank you for your heart and caring. I agree completely that there is so much more than just finding gratitude for what I have in the world. However, I do believe this is a powerful and important step. Someone who cannot see gratitude for their own life and details of that life will not be able to help others at all. They/we need to find a place of balance to move from so that we can provide for others AND ourselves. Someone who sees only suffering will not cure suffering, they will ultimately work towards that end, but in seeing nothing but suffering, will actually perpetuate it. I have gratitude for all the Creator has made available to us all. I see expansion from that place of gratitude to break the bonds of suffering for myself and those around me. Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ (all my relations).

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