For Happiness, Take Time Over Money

Take your pick: more time or money? An elusive question for physicians: many are having difficulty managing either.

“Time is the wisest counselor of all.”

—Pericles

Take your pick: more time or money? An elusive question for physicians: many are having difficulty managing either.

According to a new study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, most people (64%) say they value money more than time. But new research from the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA shows that this is the wrong thinking. “Choosing more time was associated with greater happiness—even controlling for existing levels of available time and money.”

Hal Hershfield, PhD, who led the study, offered some perspective in a recent New York Times essay: “The people in our studies who chose time over money thought about the resources differently and had different intentions for how they would spend the time or money gained. Unlike those who chose money, who were more likely to be fixated on not having enough, people who chose time focused more on how they would spend it, planning to “spend” on wants rather than needs and on other people rather than themselves—two expenditures that have previously been linked to elevated levels of happiness.”

As human beings purse happiness, Dr. Hershfield explained we are forever “faced with decisions both big and small that force us to pit time against money. Of course, sometimes it’s not a choice at all: We must earn that extra pay to make ends meet. But when it’s a choice, the likelihood of choosing more time over more money—despite the widespread tendency to do the opposite—is a good sign you’ll enjoy the happiness you seek.”

As I look back on my physician-dad’s long medical career, I realize that he was able to find the right balance between time and money. He found a life of fulfillment in being good at work and play. Somehow he made time for himself. Perhaps it was because he had the money (and many doctors do) he was able to take the time (sadly, too many doctors don’t).

That said, here are a few quotes on the value of time:

“Time is a physician which heals every grief.”

—Diphilus

“You cannot kill time without injuring eternity.”

—Henry David Thoreau

“Never leave ’till tomorrow which you can do today.”

—Benjamin Franklin

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”

—William Penn

“Don’t dwell in the past, don’t dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

—Buddha

“The common man is not concerned about the passage of time, the man of talent is driven by it.”

—Arthur Shoppenhauer

“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.”

—Stephen Covey

“It’s wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.”

—Thomas Jefferson

“Time stays long enough for those who use it.”

—Leonardo Da Vinci

“A day wasted on others is not wasted on one’s self.”

—Charles Dickens

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

—Yogi Berra

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once—whether you are ready or not.”

—Napoleon Hill

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”

—Thomas Edison

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”

—Peter Drucker

“Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.

—Art Buchwald

“Tough times never last. Tough people do.”

—Robert Schuller

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

—Bertrand Russell