After our basic needs are satisfied as per Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, what are we working for? For some it is luxury, an indulgence in something that provides pleasure and comfort, but is not absolutely necessary. Typical terms associated with luxurious items or experiences are prestige, exclusivity, authenticity, appreciation, attention, esteem and enjoyment, all of which have strong sensory and emotional properties.
For others time itself is the most luxurious possession: time to freely do what we want. Money can buy time, so we work more to capitalise on the increased value of our time. Time is money and valuable time can be invested into earning more money to buy more time.
If time is money, then it follows that attention is a currency. We choose how to spend attention, just like we spend our time, energy and money. It’s a bit like time in that way; we use it or lose it. But you can spend time on something and still not pay attention to it. And paying attention to time as money has been shown to diminish the pleasure experienced from leisure activities.
When time is abundant, there is time to kill. Having killed time, we may never seem to find enough time again. The group Pink Floyd sings:
“The time is gone
The song is over
Thought I’d something more to say”
Perhaps we should keep it simple. As J.R.R. Tolkien writes in The Fellowship of the Ring “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”