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Hard Time and Soft Time - Which Are You In?
by Pat Blackett
Do you spend your time over-busy and over-committed? Do you find it difficult to get your life into balance? In this article we look at the concept of ‘Soft Time’ as described by Gill Edwards in her book Pure Bliss: The Art of Living in Soft Time. The book explores the idea that we live in two different time cycles. One cycle feels exhausting and fruitless: Hard Time; the other cycle is creative and joyful: Soft Time.

The Two Cycles of Hard Time and Soft Time

Hard Time

Hard Time feels like a downward spiral, full of struggle, effort and busyness. It feels heavy and cluttered. There are diary-packed stretches of over-commitment which feel rushed and pressurising, punctuated by periods of attempted recovery or ‘relaxation’ which are empty and frustrating. If you feel like a hamster treading a wheel - trying harder and harder to get who-knows-where, and always falling short then you are caught up in Hard Time. Being in this space can make you feel disembodied and disconnected. Also, tense, anxious and guilt-ridden, and yet efforts to ‘try even harder’ or catch up on the backlog just seem to make things worse. Despite all this, Hard Time has an addictive quality which keeps hooking you back in for that adrenaline rush.

There are difficult periods in everyone’s life, and some stress – for instance bereavement is an unavoidable part of being human. However, the vast majority of our stress is self-created and unnecessary. It comes from living in Hard Time.It saps our energy, distracts us from our higher purpose, makes us fuss and fret about trivia, and blocks our enjoyment of life - and if we make life difficult for ourselves, it also rebounds on our family, friends and everyone around us.

Soft Time

Soft Time has a different, almost timeless quality. It involves intensely creative and fulfilling periods when everything seems to flow, when you feel inspired, heart-centred and soulful - along with blissful periods of simply relaxing and being-in-the-moment. Life seems much simpler, and yet far richer.

When we live in Soft Time, life’s challenges become much more worthwhile and positive. We feel more present and alive. We tap into our inner wisdom with ease. We are more focused and creative, and perform at our peak - whatever the task. Work feels like play. Life seems simple, unhurried and carefree. We live in wonder and delight. We are always in the right place at the right time - and everyday life is full of joy and delight.

Are you living in Hard Time?
  • Here are the tell-tale signs to look out for:
  • Feeling tense, hurried, pressurised, driven
  • Clock watching
  • Feeling heavy and tired
  • Keeping busy but not getting anything important done
  • Being unable to enjoy the simple pleasures of life
  • Unwanted duties and obligations
  • Living for the future
  • Thinking about what you have to do next, rather than what you’re doing now.
Are you living in Soft Time?
  • Here are the signs that you are experiencing Soft Time:
  • Feeling happy and fulfilled
  • Living in the moment
  • Loving yourself and others
  • Being highly creative and productive
  • Feeling energised by life
  • Meaningful coincidences
  • Focusing on what really matters to you
  • Appreciating the wonder of nature
We all probably recognise that our life does in fact swing between these two cycles but most of us seem to spend the majority of the time in Hard Time and don’t get enough Soft Time to feel replenished.

Five simple ways to access Soft Time:
  • Aim to do less – Give yourself comfortable goals at the start of each day or week enabling you to slip into Soft Time.
  • Arrive early – Do you always pack at the last minute? Do you often catch a train or plane with only moments to spare? This adds a huge amount of stress to your life. Plan to arrive early, and allow for the unexpected so you will feel calmer and more centred.
  • Enjoy having to wait. In a supermarket queue or a traffic jam. Our Hard Time self is impatient about the ‘wasted time’. Our Soft Time self simply accepts the situation, smiles and relaxes – enjoying the unexpected ‘gift’ of a slower pace to the day. The situation is the same, only our awareness is different
  • Travel more slowly – Walk or cycle whenever possible. Walking to a corner shop to buy milk, instead of using the car, can increase your quality of life by slowing you down. Enjoy the journey rather than dashing to ‘get there’.
  • Bring yourself into the moment – ‘Magic moments’ come from being fully present. Feel the soft breeze on your face, smell a flower, bite into some delicious fruit, and don’t get lost in thoughts of the past or future, be fully alive in the here and now. Let your thoughts slow down and drift past without grabbing hold of them, and bring yourself into this unique moment. What can you see, hear, feel, or smell? How does your body feel? What is happening around you?

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