Recently on Morning Air, Dr. Jim Schroeder joined the show to talk with John Morales about making a daily effort to carve out time and space for your psychological well-being.
Dr. Schroeder is the author of the book, Confessions of a Carless Commuter, a compilation of his stories about using public transportation. As a father of eight kids, Jim rarely had access to a car. So, he turned to things like jogging, biking, and other means of transportation to get to and from work. Over the thirteen years of commuting without a car, Jim compiled an arsenal of stories and lessons from his experience that not only taught him about getting around, but about the deeper recesses of his mind, heart, and soul.
Dr. Schroeder has talked extensively in the past about finding joy and meaning in everyday life regardless of the season, as well as the idea of facing difficulties head-on instead of cheating our way out of them. Now, he wanted to tackle time management and make sure we provide the correct “living conditions” for our brains. At the beginning of one of his chapters, he included a quote from William Penn that says, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
What Dr. Schroeder wanted to extrapolate from this idea is that one of our most common excuses in life is, “I just don’t have the time,” or, “I can’t find the time.” While we can often become overwhelmed with the physical tasks and duties of the day, what we need isn’t more physical, literal time. We need more “psychological time and space” to be able to work through the issues, responsibilities, wants, and thoughts that occupy our minds. “Psychological time and space is all about clarity of mind, just the ability to really consider, ‘Where am I at now? What are the needs that I have and what are the ways that I can go forward in life and even specific daily tasks to be more effective?’” said Jim.
To begin this process of clearing our minds, Dr, Schroeder said that we need to start reevaluating the way we look at time. We should understand that life is always going to be busy, and time is not a commodity to be purchased, saved, and spent. If we look at a free five minutes in our day and immediately jump to the conclusion that we can get this many things done in that time, we’re not considering the opportunity for self-reflection or thinking about what we just experienced or will be experiencing later in the day. A busy life can often be a good life that is filled with opportunities for self-enrichment, but a busy mind can also become cluttered with no room for psychological clarity.
To Dr. Schroeder, psychological time and space give you the special ability to remain in the present. In the non-stop world of work, you could be sitting at home with nothing to do, but your mind is focused on things that you have to do two days from now. You may have physical time, but your psychological time is being clouded. We should plan ahead but remain in the present. A big part of making sure you’re not spread too thin is learning how to say no. As Matthew Kelly once said, “Life is about saying yes to the things that help you become the best version of yourself and no to the things that don’t.”
In his book, Dr. Schroeder talks about three primary culprits that hinder our mental capacity, and ultimately, our capacity for success. They are fatigue, anxiety, and distraction. By fatigue, he means being burnt out, chronic fatigue that beats you down and keeps you from being happy, which is not the same as being just tired. With regards to anxiety, the most repeated command in the Gospel is, “Fear not.” There is a multitude of instances in which Jesus talks about not worrying and letting God take care of you. “And distraction: C.S. Lewis once said that it doesn’t matter how distractions occur. Distractions are one of the biggest problems in our faith.”
If we can successfully find ways and habits to minimize the fatigue, anxiety, and distractions in our lives, maintaining mental clarity and providing ample psychological time and space will not be a problem.
Listen to the full segment below:
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