Cultivating You

Arnold Bennett improve your mind

Arnold caricatured by OWL for Vanity Fair, 1913

Back in 1910, Arnold Bennett published a great book called “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day“. In it, he talked about the supply of time being a cruelly finite 24 hours in each day that leaves us saying we will do things when we have more time.

But we never shall have more time. The only way to accomplish what we wish to accomplish, is to begin.

That means we have to arrange our time so that we can live “fully and comfortably” within our daily allowance of 24 hours.

The wonderful Mr. Bennett suggests that one takes 90 minutes every other evening to spend on “some important and consecutive cultivation of the mind.”

He points out that even if you do that, you are still left with somewhere near 45 hours that are waking but non-working hours each week.

That’s a shocking thought, isn’t it?   

Think of all you accomplish in a 45 hour working week. What do you accomplish outside of working hours?

So, how do we get control of this time that we fill with errands, exercise, socializing, chores and responsibilities?  How do we carve out time for the “cultivation of the self”?

I am not suggesting anywhere near as much as 90 minutes every other evening. However, I do say that we can all afford 35 minutes a week to cultivate our minds and our selves.

To put that in perspective: You are awake for approximately 5,000 – 7,000 minutes each week, and I am suggesting you take just 35 of them for personal enrichment.

Take baby steps. Make a tiny change to how you spend your 24 hours, and spend 5 minutes of it to cultivate your thoughts.

The best part is, you don’t even have to decide what to do in those 5 minutes!

Simply open your email and follow your guided 5 minute practice each day. It will enliven your whole mind – through Reflection, Gratitude, Wonder, Visioning, Communicating, Acknowledgement, Giving, Receiving, and Planning.

“I have noticed different things about myself from your 5-minute program. I’m only on day 22 and I can sense I am reacting differently to things.”  ~ Mary T.

“I can’t wait to get my daily exercises. I think they help me understand me better. Somehow I feel calmer about things.” ~ Janelle M.

I started by asking what I can do for you. I can help you steal back your own 5 precious minutes and enrich yourself.

What will you gain by reflecting on genuinely important things, where you are going, what life is giving you, and what determines your actions?


  1. LenieLenie10-22-2014

    I take 15 minutes every morning to focus on my day – only positive thoughts allowed. I have found this practice sets the stage for a better day. You’re right – we do need to take time to reflect.
    Lenie recently posted…Beat the MicroBead – Get the AppMy Profile

    • Sue HinesSue Hines10-22-2014

      Lenie, that reminds me of the time I tried to go for a week without allowing a single negative word out of my mouth. It was incredibly difficult. Even that sentence contains the word ‘difficult’. Would have to rephrase that as being something like: It was something I really needed to work at.

  2. Eve KoivulaEve Koivula10-22-2014

    I’ve used the 5 minute technique multiple times when something starts to bug me enough and I want to change it. It works like magic every time!
    Eve Koivula recently posted…Get Comfortable With Discomfort: Make a VideoMy Profile

    • Sue HinesSue Hines10-22-2014

      Glad to hear that, Eve. Sounds like you are an evolved thinker.

  3. CatarinaCatarina10-22-2014

    Devoting time to become even more intellectual is essential. Unless of course, you want to be a bit dim and look surprised when someone mentions say, an old Greek philsopher. Reading what old wise men and women wrote is an excellent way of developing your thinking and ability to analyse genuinely imporant issues.
    Catarina recently posted…Actions speak louder than wordsMy Profile

    • Sue HinesSue Hines10-22-2014

      Great point, Catarina. What others’ have thought and said can be so valuable – saving us time and heartache. Our own thoughts can do much the same, though. When we are in tune with all the ‘voices’ in our hearts and heads, we are able to make decisions much more easily, and be content with them too.

  4. Sue — thanks for the reminder to take a few minutes everyday for myself — not to read email, talk on the phone, do some cleaning, write my blog and so forth. Why do we feel so guilty when we just sit and ruminate? It seems like we have to keep busy every minute which, when you think about it, is ridiculous.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Powerful Images Don’t Need Any Words to Grab Your AttentionMy Profile

    • Sue HinesSue Hines10-22-2014

      It is strange how we pick up the idea that cultivating our selves is somehow a ‘forbidden pleasure’! The bottom line is that our lives and relationships all benefit from the reflection and considered development of our thoughts. It means we can serve better!

  5. Jacqueline GumJacqueline Gum10-21-2014

    It seems like just a very little bit of time, but I don’t wonder at what those 5 minutes a day can accomplish in terms of reflection. Wow. I’m going to have to try this:)
    Jacqueline Gum recently posted…Menopause… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • Sue HinesSue Hines10-22-2014

      It is quite amazing, isn’t it, Jacquie. Some things take concentrated effort all at once. Cultivating your mind, however, is one that you can tackle with little steps. In fact, sometimes it is better that way. have you ever suffered from “culture overload” after visiting too many museums?

  6. Susan CooperSusan Cooper10-21-2014

    Five minutes a day really is such a small amount of time to invest, whether it’s through Bible study, meditation, gratitude, etc., and can make such a difference in ones over all well being. It’s important just to slow down and invest time in your self now and then.

    • Sue HinesSue Hines10-21-2014

      So right, Susan. I have found people “mean to” do this – someday. But the vagueness is unsettling and they just don’t get around to it. Having a directed program helps people get started and get into a consistent habit. Those who are already doing something can benefit from the structure. From time to time we get caught up in our own “stuff” and spiral into something that is less than progress. having an outside guide or mentor helps one regain perspective.

  7. Niekka McDonaldNiekka McDonald10-21-2014

    This is great. Most of the time be results come from tiny steps. I am a firm believer that our thoughts are the most important thing we can control. It is important to have good thoughts. I have worked to change mine and I’m still working. I love the 5 minute guided practice. I’m writing this down right now.
    Niekka McDonald recently posted…Baked Southwestern Chicken Egg RollsMy Profile

    • Sue HinesSue Hines10-21-2014

      Glad you get value out of this, Niekka. I love your positive energy.

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