Time Paradox: Why People Only Appreciate Time In Retrospect

Choose your experiences carefully

Thomas Oppong


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As much as we would like to, we cannot foresee the future. There is no way to predict what our lives will hold for us.

What we can do, though, is ensure we’re making the most of time now and taking proactive steps to minimise worries about our future selves.

Appreciation for time is the best way to put it to good use. Unfortunately, humans are too preoccupied to recognise the value of time in real-time.

We don’t slow down on purpose to find ourselves or learn more about what makes us come alive.

“It does not matter how much time we are given if there is nowhere for it to settle; it escapes through the cracks and holes of the mind,” Seneca said, in his book, On the Shortness of Life.

Most people only appreciate time in retrospect; they are strapped for time in the present and miss out on meaningful experiences until it’s too late.

The value of time is often overlooked.

We only become conscious of ourselves when we realise we’ve wasted a lot of it on things that brought little or no fulfilment to our lives.

Sometimes the realisation doesn’t happen until it’s too late.

Some people get this awareness when they lose something or someone, and yet, others recognise the shortness of life when something terrible happens in their lives.

If you only appreciate time in retrospect, it doesn’t mean that you are disorganised, lazy, or unmotivated.

Rather, it means that you are spending time in a way that does not make you happy. Many people only appreciate time in hindsight because there is too much of it. And it can be challenging to make the most of it if you are always in a hurry.

People only value time when they look backwards. They don’t appreciate time while they have it in abundance.

“The bottom line is, time is a powerful force. It transforms our preferences. It reshapes our values. It alters our personalities. We seem to appreciate this fact, but only in…



Thomas Oppong

Making the wisdom of great thinkers instantly accessible. As seen on Forbes, Inc. and Business Insider. For my popular essays, go here: https://thomasoppong.com