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Time: How to Give the Greatest Gift

25th October, 2018

“The greatest gift that you can give to others and to yourself is time. Embrace the gift of time whether you give it or receive it.” ~ Philip Zimbardo

So often we think of ‘value’ in terms of currency and monetary worth, but one of the most valuable things that any of us have to offer is time.

Time is a precious gift we can share with others, no matter our job, education or background. There are many instances in modern life where we get too distracted with what something is ‘worth’ instead of focusing on what really adds value to our homes, our lives and the lives of others.

As the psychologist Zimbardo once said, the greatest gift is time. Whether you are the lucky recipient of someone making time for you or you are sharing your time with others, helping the elderly or volunteering at a local food bank, you might be surprised how those odd minutes and hours add up.

Let’s look at some of the ways we can give the gift of time in all areas of our lives.

Time with Family

It’s hard to say who is treating who when you spend time with your family; it really is a case of everybody wins. By offering your time to go through school work or play with your children, you are giving them your undivided attention, and they will notice. On the other hand, you’re getting to experience the joy of parenthood, spending hours watching them learn and laugh and experience the world while shaping their personality.

The same is true if you spend time with your parents, your siblings and your extended family; quality time spent together making memories is far more valuable than a pile of toys or expensive distractions. If you find everyone is particularly busy in your circle, why not set a date so you know you will have time together? It can be family night once a week where you catch up on each others’ lives and play old board games or do fun projects together - try teaching each other new skills like cookery or art.

Time in the Community

Many of us are involved in our local community to some degree, whether that means attending the summer fete or being part of neighbourhood watches and ferrying youngsters to various clubs and activities. Unfortunately, a lot of people get so caught up in these ‘perks’ of community that they lose sight of what community really is.

Community is the support system that surrounds our homes and families, and if we nurture it we can see the positive impact it has on the lives of those around us. So keep an ear out to see what’s happening in your community and see how you can get involved; maybe an elderly neighbour needs help tending to their garden, or a friend might be going through a hard time and needs help with the kids for a couple of hours one Saturday morning. Nothing too extravagant, just the gift of time to show you care and help build those community bonds.

Don’t forget that there is a wider community in the world too, so look for charitable projects that need volunteers or help with fundraising - those few hours spent baking and selling cakes to help the elderly or visiting a local care home to spend time talking with residents can make all the difference, and is a humbling reminder that the world is about so much more than just ourselves.

Time for Yourself

Far from being selfish, taking time for yourself is a necessity if you really want to give your all to those around you. Life is full of little stresses and busy periods that can drain you, no matter how hard you try to stay on top of it all. To ensure you have 100% left to give to your friends, your family, your community and charity, first, you need to take time out and look after yourself.

It can be something as simple as sitting quietly for 15 minutes with a cup of tea when you start to feel overwhelmed, or it can be an opportunity to better yourself and take time to learn or improve a skill you’ve always thought about; perhaps exercise or reading, art or baking, where you can get lost in the moment and really reset. The time you give to yourself can also be used to reflect spiritually and emotionally, rest up and reward your body for its hard work, or simply recharge so you’re ready to go and give the world the best you.

Embrace it

Time really is the one treasure we all have in endless supply, and it is a gift we can give in abundance throughout our whole lives. That’s not to say that you won’t need to prioritise things to make sure you use your time wisely, but you’ll certainly see the world and those closest to you benefit from the gift of time more than anything else. So, take a moment to review those moments you have spare, the hours wasted in front of the television or the times of busy nothingness and put that gift to good use elsewhere.