Our Most Valuable Currency

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 4 2012 @ 9:11am

Psychologist Elizabeth Dunn argues that in fact we are not working more and relaxing less – our time is just worth more than it used to be:

[A]s time becomes worth more money, time is seen as scarcer. Scarcity and value are perceived as conjoined twins; when a resource—from diamonds to drinking water—is scarce, it is more valuable, and vice versa. So, when our time becomes more valuable, we feel like we have less of it. … Over the past 50 years, feelings of time pressure have risen dramatically in North America, despite the fact that weekly hours of work have stayed fairly level and weekly hours of leisure have climbed. This apparent paradox may be explained, in no small part, by the fact that incomes have increased substantially during the same period. This causal effect may also help to explain why people walk faster in wealthy cities like Tokyo and Toronto than in cities like Nairobi and Jakarta.

Stan James adds:

Maybe convincing yourself that your time isn’t so valuable is a good way to relax. Or rather, remembering that feeling un-hurried is more valuable than anything you could be doing with your time.