Sands of Time

Time . . . Tick Tock Away!

When you hear your alarm go off in the morning, what is your first thought for the day? Are you ready to get up and grab the day with zest?

How about the way you slam down the alarm to snooze for just another twenty or thirty winks! Which way applies more to your morning wake up moments?

For this month’s lifeskill, Time Management, let’s see how time and attitude compete with each other. According to the America Heritage Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs, “tick away” has two points of view, positive and negative:

  1. To function characteristically or well: That old car is still ticking away.
  2. To be gradually depleted. Used of an interval of time: The final seconds ticked away.

I imagine both the positive and negative viewpoints apply to not only the moments in our day but also any given week. For some, the negative viewpoint may be an ever-present reality. With the pandemic, political conflicts, and global uncertainties surrounding us, we wonder where the good news can be found. At least, it would be nice to feel like our nation and communities are functioning well.

Yet, many more likely land in category two where time feels like it’s running out, and we are in our final seconds ticking away. The Farlex Dictionary of Idioms defines “tick-tock” as “Used to indicate that time is running out (for someone or something). The idiom is reminiscent of the sound created by a mechanical clock. Farlex’s two examples include “Tick-tock, Jeffrey! I need that assignment finished before the end of the day.” Another is “It’s just a matter of time before the whole system collapses again. Tick-tock, tick-tock.” Both hints we are not just running out of time for a work deadline today but for the world in general.

According to The General Social Survey (GSS) project by National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago (NORC), their Life Satisfaction “General Happiness” Trends Survey highlights how the Pandemic, conflicts, and uncertainties have impacted our nation. From 1972 to 2021, those who chose “Not too happy” category rose from 17.23% to 23.82% (average years between ranged from 10 to 15%). In 2018, those not too happy were at 12.88%. With those unhappy almost doubling in two years, we can understand why we see what is going on in our neighborhoods. In 1972, those choosing “Very happy” were at 29.72%. By 2021, it dropped to 19.37%. These unfortunate changes also reflect why our nation’s mental health problems have climbed sharply.

Mental Health America’s 2021 COVID-19 and Mental Health: A Growing Crisis reports “The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. From January to September 2020, 315,220 people took the anxiety screen, a 93 percent increase over the 2019 total number of anxiety screens. 534,784 people took the depression screen, a 62 percent increase over the 2019 total number of depression screens.” The young (11-17 years old) are struggling the most with their mental health.

Before we all end up falling into a pit of despair, there is hope and time to gain remedy for many. NORC’s report has one shining stat for those choosing “Pretty happy” at 53.05% (1972) to 56.81% (2021). The pretty happy all stayed happily within the fifty-percentile over the decades! Maybe we should all be around “pretty happy” and “very happy” people more often!

Here’s another thought to ponder: “How about we each give “pretty happy” to “very happy” a try for ourselves?!” We just may improve the numbers in 2022 and beyond. The one place we each will find a way to do just that is right here at home, within our families and community. How do we start? Here are a few hints.

  • Start a gratitude moment in the day . . . think, say, do “’thank you” moments to others. That way those around you will be encouraged by the hope that rises around you and want to pass it on.
  • Giving to Gain . . . as a family, creatively give to those in need. By your giving, you and your family will gain the joy and multiple genuine hope for the future.
  • Recharge with purpose, fulfillment, and happiness . . . see every day simple activities like cleaning the kitchen, yard work, changing your bed sheets as a way to gain a sense of accomplishment and emotional balance. Experience the satisfaction appreciating the ability to actually do these simpler life tasks, balancing the weightier issues of life around us. You just may be recharged and ready to tackle those tougher ones we all face at some point in our lives.
  • Walk with a smile and a little whimsy . . . whether at the grocery store, a 10-minute walk, or 1-hour hike, breathe and let your smile and a friendly nod be seen and felt by others who pass you by. I just may be the one who passes by and needs that smile and friendly nod.
  • Set boundaries that abound to your good . . . setting boundaries gives you time to focus on your own self-care so you can care for others with the right attitude. Healthy boundaries offer you the opportunity to say “no”, communicate with grace, and pick your battles with a win-win for all.

So, as time “tick-tocks” away let us all begin living a more positive day with our thoughts, words, and actions. We will then bring a greater hope and redemptive future to our communities, nation, and world.