Airport Time Affluence Versus Time Poverty

It’s become so common place when people ask us how we are doing to say “busy.”  It’s the norm that seems to be replacing “fine”, and actually is looked at with respect in our Western culture.  To be busy is to be productive.  Our wait time should be minimized or filled with entertainment. Never do we see this more than at an airport.


Today I am at the airport flying to Italy for a silent retreat in several days (picture above is from Mandali retreat center last year). I allowed myself the luxury to take a later flight and not rush with bare minimum time to get to the gate. When we provide little space to arrive, everything is prone to irritate us.  Drivers on the freeway, checking in at the front desk, people cutting in front of line at security, loud children crying in their strollers.  All are occurrences that are bound to happen and push our buttons.  Our trip that “should” be an escape begins with irritability and stress.


It’s a different experience to know you can stroll in an airport versus rush. When I ate my lunch, I didn’t opt to look at a magazine or my phone.  I tasted all the ingredients in my spicy noodle chicken soup.  I looked at the people around me and wondered who here was happy.  The two cashiers were smiling and laughing jovially at an inside joke.  But everyone around me seemed miserable and disengaged. There was the married couple with two children, where nobody seemed to speak to each other or smile.  There was the man scrolling through his smart phone or a girl watching a television episode on here phone.  Were they hopeful for their trips?  Were they rushed?  Were they trying to let go of the nightmare of arriving at the airport?


There is a positive psychology concept of time affluence and time poverty.   Time poverty is where many of us seem to reside.   We are starved for time, and never satiated. Even if we have an evening or day off, we fill it with activities or binge watching television series.  This hardly leaves us feeling refreshed, reversely we may feel deprived.  But having the wealth of time can work wonders.  Time affluence.  It’s something many of us, with intentional work, can have the potential to be rich in.


Although we cannot control the events that will occur in our day.  We can provide space for everything to unfold. We can opt to be time affluent by arriving early to meetings, events, or airports and allow ourselves to arrive and be present versus be filled with worry and stress during the entire journey.  Explore where on the time economy you reside and how you can make a tiny shift towards affluence.

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