There are only so many minutes in a day — 1,440 to be exact

Column by Andrea W. Doray
Posted 12/31/18

And the word for 2019 is … oh, never mind. The concept of choosing – or being chosen by – a word as a focus for the coming year has run its course for me. Rather than making New Year’s …

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There are only so many minutes in a day — 1,440 to be exact

Posted

And the word for 2019 is … oh, never mind. The concept of choosing – or being chosen by – a word as a focus for the coming year has run its course for me. Rather than making New Year’s resolutions, for seven years I’ve followed the word-as-focus process with “alchemy,” “light,” “persistence,” “song,” “breathe,” “trust” and, last year, “can.” Some are nouns, some are verbs, and others such as “light” and “trust” can be either or both.

But “(I) can” came slowly and grudgingly to me for 2018, and I haven’t reflected at all on how the word played out for me this year. In fact, I had to look back to my Feb. 8 column to even remember what it was. And in early December, as I was putting out my feelers for the 2019 word, I realized that I have no yearning for it anymore.

Coincidentally, however, as I was seeking that 2019 word, I attended a faculty training for instructors in the Young Writers Program at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. The training was inspiring, and I came away ever more jazzed to work with young writers. The gist of the training, though – as the program director predicted – was life changing.

Is that too bold a statement, do you think, that something such as six hours of training could change a person’s life? Or, perhaps, after all, it’s just a much simpler statement, a simpler outcome, to recognize that pretty much all of our learning and experiences and decision making changes the paths of our lives.

For me, this bold and simple insight occurred in the context of always bringing positivity into the classroom, no matter what the traffic is like on the way in, or whether I have a cold, or how the class itself progresses.

That’s when our facilitator noted that there are only 1,440 minutes in the day.

Basic math could have told me this, but I’ve never really given it any thought before. Think of it … just 1,440 minutes in a day. And so the question becomes, how are we spending these minutes?

If we are annoyed by rush-hour traffic, in conflict with coworkers, irritated with the kids/spouses/dogs, then how many minutes of joy, reflection and contentment are we giving away? For many of us, just turning on the news can rob us of those precious minutes, minutes spent in futility, perplexity, astonishment and sometimes wrath that could otherwise provide happiness.

We have a saying in our house: Sometimes we need to stop in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. Personally, I don’t define happiness as giddy gaiety but rather as contented fulfillment. Plus, happiness comes in all different sizes, colors and flavors … what makes me happy might bore you to tears.

Ultimately, my life-changing insight was that – wherever we do find our happiness – we only have so many minutes each day to appreciate it. I’m actually somewhat horrified to count up the number of minutes I give away to fear, to confusion, to disappointment.

Thus, rather than a word for 2019, I have a quest instead: relish more minutes of happiness, and then put the rest away.

Happy New Year to you!

Andrea Doray is a writer who would actually like to spend some of her minutes getting more sleep. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

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