On Arnold Bennett’s How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day

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One of my biggest inspirations for this website is an author named Arnold Bennett. Born in 1867, he was best known as a novelist, and though I have thoroughly enjoyed his novels, I first discovered him and got absolutely hooked on reading him when I stumbled upon a self-help work titled How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day. I highly recommend the work as it had an immense impact on me. I finished it in less than a quarter of a day, and if the work speaks to you as much as it did to me, you’ll finish it in even less time.

What particularly appeals to me about Bennett’s work is that it is so different than the clichéd awful self-help books on the market today. These books concern themselves with efficient use of time in order to succeed in your career, (ugh!) maximize your efficiency, get that promotion, and gain wealth. Even the thought of all these matters causes one to shirk in disgust. What banality, what a waste to concern ourselves with such meaningless trifles. Bennett’s book rather instructs us how to live, how to spend our time well. For life, and not work is at the forefront of our happiness. Don’t mistake me, to live, and to live well is hard work, even harder work is to figure out who we are, what we want and what can make us happy. Bennett can be of great assistance in this matter and I shall highlight some of his most remarkable points below.

The Miracle of Time

Bennett writes:

The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it. You wake up in the morning, and lo! Your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. A highly singular commodity, showered upon you in a manner as singular as the commodity itself! For remark! No one can take it from you. It is unstealable. And no one receives either more or less than you receive. (Bennett 1)

Bennett hits on to something truly remarkable. We possess an incredible supply of time, and though we may not always use it to our fullest potential, it remains with us. Forget how busy we may think we are, and how many hours we may spend at work, time is allotted to us at the same measures each and every single day and it is up to us to figure out the best use of its indefatigable supply. We must look at it exactly as Bennett does, as “the most precious of possessions,” in order to start a meaningful journey into the life we want to live. If you have apprehensions that it is not up to you and that there are circumstances beyond your control, stop immediately! It is always up to you, always has been up to you, and always will be up to you.

As Bennett states “You can only waste the passing moment. You cannot waste tomorrow; it is kept for you. You cannot waste the next hour; it is kept for you” (Bennett 1-2). So now that you are aware of the time you have in front of you, the question becomes how will you live on your twenty-four hours a day? By living, Bennett does not mean exist or muddle through or pass by, but truly live without those painful apprehensions of missing that something essential and important your soul cries out for.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’ll get around to this, or change that when I have a little more time?” If you have, it’s important to realize that you will never have more time. As Bennett explains, “We have, and we have always had, all the time there is” (Bennett 2).

There is no future, it doesn’t exist (you’ll always be in the present, and that is not so disempowering after all). The past hardly matters, after all, it’s gone. There is only the present, so if there’s something your soul yearns for, and you have beating it down telling it “later, I’ll do this when the time is right,” you are fooling yourself. Do it now, apply all your energy and use your time well.

I’ll continue this topic on another post. If you’re interested in reading the work, here’s a link to a nice edition of his book.

If you wish to respond, I’d love to hear about influential self-help authors you have read, ones that have truly forced you to see something you did not realize before. How did they impact you? What was the most singular realization you arrived at after finishing their work?

Thanks so much, and I’ll catch you later 🙂

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6 thoughts on “On Arnold Bennett’s How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day

  1. Emily

    hi there!
    this seems like the kind of book I would be interested in! I have a lot of books on Native spirituality and the concept of time is very important. The time that we have is precious and we have to be grateful that we have it. Enjoy the present moment, be grateful for what was and hopeful for what is to come.

    Reply
  2. Rita

    Hi, this has been a great read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about time and life to drive home the points by Bennett. Cheers.

    Reply

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