Where to invest our time?

flowYesterday I was considering what makes us start the game of Civilization one more time? Now I want to focus to the key, investment of time and where time can serve us best?

I feel like I got quite satisfying answers to the ‘why’ people spend the time on the game to yesterday’s post. One thing that certainly resonated with me was that, every gameplay is a new story. This is true and in fact dynamic, surprising and often story at a level where you can overcome the challenges and emerge as a successful victor.

So who wouldn’t buy that kind of story? I’ve been buying into it for more than 200 hours now.

Yesterday’s events further triggered me to think about this. Short summary of the yesterday goes like this: after finishing up the article, I spend afternoon on basketball court and thinking that it would be nice to play a bit in the evening. It turns out I ended up playing Civilization until midnight until I came back to my senses. What happened? Flow.

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly describes flow in his book Flow (1990) as a state where a person is so absorbed in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. In Wikipedia article positive psychology has a bit broader and positive view on flow “is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

Flow and time are really related concepts. Albert Einstein famously put it: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for
an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” That sounds like a flow!

Flow doesn’t guarantee the right results thought. Sometimes we are doing things that are optimally challenging and we’ve also optimally good skills to do it, however what if the results are irrelevant? In example surely playing Civilization 5 is quite satisfying and I might even learn something from it, however what if I want to develop my blog and writing skills instead, what do I get from it? Well… I’ve written one story of it already and another one is here so, that’s pretty good!

Indeed the story! Stories are incredibly dear and valuable for us. We are the shapers’ of our stories. I think we need all kinds of stories to have a great life. However, in order to do good and have meaning to others peoples’ lives too, I think we need to think what do to with our limited time and capabilities.

In the TED talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, he also brings up the topic about limits of human cognition. He says that ”Our nervous system in incapable of processing more than about 110 bits of information per second.” Then he elaborates that listening to person, takes up 60 bits per second of our cognition. So in total, we’ve the capability to follow (under) two conversations at one time. When we are immersing ourselves into creation for example, our conscious capacity simply isn’t big enough to facilitate body feelings, hungriness, tiredness, identity etc., so that’s another side of the flow.

Because we’ve both limited time and capacity, we need to have vision for ourselves, what I am at my best? This vision is the story that is not yet in flesh. This should be our purpose, our highest priority, our greatest achievement. To make this real, we should devote the best of us each day. Or at bigger picture: we should meet work to meet the basic needs as quickly as possible and then serve the highest purpose we can.


Reason, why I got so hung up with the thought was that a much more learned person than me: Jari Sarasvuo said on one coaching session that time is the greatest leverage we’ve. Usually his words have some idea behind them, so I decided to look further up this.

And when talking about levers, we cannot miss ancient world genius Archimedes, who said “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.” So if the time, is the leverage, where is the place to stand? What is the fulcrum?

I guess it is the action of investing early. Time will do the thing, but we need to invest early. Therefore, we must  use the best available time and energy we’ve to the things that matter most to us and to the world. Like I already mentioned, we are still fighting for our basic needs, that needs to be dealt with each day, each week, but right away after that the first thing we should do, is to invest in the big thing that benefits the world.

A question I shall be now asking myself is that, am I creating my vision come alive as my story? Or am I just experiencing some story?

First and foremost I should be putting effort to create my vision true by making it a story. Then remainder of the time I can dedicate to live stories that inspire me and connect the world.

Big difference simplified here is creating and experiencing (something that someone else has created). As a connecting thought to the Mihaly Csikszentmihaly’s TED speech, he mentions the 10 year rule which I take is approximately the same as 10 000 hour rule. He mentions that after that time limit of learning, one can actually start to create better stuff than already existed. That’s something to think about! For me this means, that I better start typing!

I was talking about the vision and the change. Indeed, world changes as we do, I think Gandhi’s results are the perfect example of that, he truly lived his words to reality “you must be the change you want to see in the world.”  Read the article  I was reading today here, it has a ten points about this, check it out and study it!

To conclude, I want to say that both zones are important: creating your story as a reality as well as experiencing the stories. As an example I want to use the song lyrics from 14 years ago that suddenly today motivated me to write about this topic of urgency. The song was in the soundtrack of the game Red Alert 2 and it is called “Blow It Up” – there is a line in there that says “Time is running out”, which is true statement. We never know when then time is going to run out, therefore we must spend majority of our time out of the comfort zone, exercising effort and emotional labor in order to make all of our true potential manifest.

Thank you for reading it all the way here!



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