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Time and I: the problems

Try using the timeless "I"

Only by cashing in on the benefits of time-binding (a la Alfred Korzybski) is the word “I” needed for survival.


Consider assertions that could be thought or spoken by a being without referring to time, without including words that implied a past or future:

  • “I hot.”

  • “I run.”

  • “I hungry.”

  • “I hurt in knee.”

  • “You tall.”

  • “I want to sex you.”


Even these statements could not have the same meaning for the words “I” or “you” if spoken by a non-time-binding being, like my cat. That is because we humans, as time-binders, in using the word “I” or “you,” are referring to beings who exist continuously over time, not just now. The “I” spoken by a non-time-binder could only refer to an “I” that exists just now, with no explicit awareness of its past or its future existence.

The forever "I"

Whenever the word “I” (or “you”) is used (or implied), it refers to a being that exists inside of time, at least for the duration of that individual’s life. For example, when I use (say or think) the word “I,” I refer generally to the same individual called Dwight who existed twenty years ago, last January, and yesterday. That “I” refers equally to the being that will (probably) exist tomorrow, in 30 days from now, and ten years hence. Of course, this “I” also indicates the same being as he exists now.

What you can say with a time-binding "I"

With this definition and declaration of a time-binding and time-inclusive “I”, we are able to think and speak these types of assertions, requests, promises, and declarations, all of which bind time:


  • “I think it will rain tomorrow.”

  • “I remember it snowed yesterday.”

  • “I predict my mother will arrive on time and she will be wearing a hat.”

  • “If you give me four oranges and three apples, I predict (with certainty) that I will have seven pieces of fruit.”

  • “Last time I lent you money, you did not return it, so I will not lend you money again.”

  • “Will you give me a ride home?”

  • “I will treat you for lunch Saturday.”

  • “If you call me, I will not answer.”

  • “I will accept the vendor’s hot dog and, in exchange, give her $2.00.”

  • “From now on, please call me by my new name Jeffery.”

  • “This site is available 24/7.”

  • “I will never drink again. I am now a non-drinker.”

  • “I want you to kiss me.”

  • “I promise to pay you weekly for your services.”

  • “If you call me in the morning, I will have a surprise for you.”

  • “By believing in Jesus Christ as my savior, I predict (know, believe) I will go to heaven after I die.”

  • “If I act like a normal person, I predict (expect) others will accept me and even like me.”

“I” generalizes an individual over time. It declares the existence of "something" that is not knowable in the same concrete sense as an in-the-moment person, a cat, a stove, a sound, or a sensation is knowable.

Surviving and thriving with an "I"

But of what use is this “I” to the individual if it does not have some power to benefit that individual through the binding of behaviors through time?


To this end, this “I,” through its emergence in the infant, the child, into the teenager and the adult, has the ability to make choices, to make requests, to make promises, and to make declarations, all in service to that individual and to others. These powers of our “I” give us humans the potential to survive and thrive in ways that leave the non-time-binding animals in the dust. Think pollution, if you will...LOL.

First big "I" problem

But there’s a problem. A big one.


Our mammalian ancestors were non-time binders for one hundred million years, and their ancestors even longer than that. In contrast, we humans have been time binders for a mere million or so years. Evolution works by hook or crook and is rarely optimal. In its design of non-human animals, however, nature seems to have been able to instill contentment (“happiness”), since they are always just “being here now.” My cat Princess inspires me in her capacity to “be happy doing nothing.” Nevertheless, in stepping into this new arena of time-binding animals, with homo sapiens as the only survivors in this new domain, and endowing them with immense survival powers compared to non-time-binding animals, nature did not take the time to set it up so that contentment and happiness was necessarily included in the package. Survival trumped happiness in nature's rush to create a new genus and species.


In nature’s rush to cash in on the survival benefits of time-binding, she ended up creating we humans with a strong tendency, especially when combined with cultural training, to forget the contentment and joys of living in the now and to put a larger focus on getting results in the future. As humans, for the sake of happiness, we cannot go back to being non-time-binding animals. Even if, as an individual, you tried to unbind time, that would be a time-binding intention for the future. Our default tendencies easily trap us in the worlds of the future and the past.

How to solve the first big problem


Nature made it difficult for us to remain at peace with ourselves as other animals are by endowing us with a bias toward Now-Next conflicts. What we can do, at least as individuals, is to work on creating alignment and integrity between the more non-time-binding part of ourselves, our Now, and the time-binding part of ourselves, our Next. When our Now is happy but our Next is unhappy, we are unhappy. When our Next is happy but our Now is unhappy, we are unhappy. Only by creating and maintaining Now-Next Integrity can we be more fully and continuously happy and fulfilled.

Second big "I" problem

But wait. There’s another level to the problem.


When nature endowed us with time-binding, she also bestowed a new domain of amazing possibilities and variabilities that could exist between us and others, who are also able to time-bind:

  • No monkey ever said, “I’ll trade you an apple for a banana.”

  • No gorillas ever agreed, “Why don’t you plant some fruit trees while I guard the village.”

  • No two rabbits ever promised to each other, “I’ll love you forever, forsaking all others.”

  • No dog ever said to another dog, “You broke your promise to me, bitch. I hate you and never want to see you again.”

  • No drake ever said to a duck, “I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow when you’re having lunch.”

  • No dolphin ever shared with her playmates, “I think Republicans are heartless.”

  • No father raccoon ever required, “Give me five fish every day for a year and then you can marry and have sex with my daughter.”

  • No lion ever complained to another lion, “You were greedy and unfair to me and the other lions by eating more than a lion’s share of that antelope.”


Animals reap neither the benefits of the time-binding humans nor the costs

With in-the-moment animals, their relationships with others are now-oriented and extend over time only by their instincts and their in-the-moment desires, as they may serve the future by evolutionary design, not by any rational and often complicated considerations. Additionally, the “balance” between taking care of themselves as individuals and “altruistic” behavior is driven by in-the-moment stimulations, combined with their built-in instincts.


Our social, time-binding predicament

We time-binding humans, in contrast, are thrown into a world in which we often interact and transact with scores of other humans, with our influence extending well beyond those we affect directly, especially with the power of language, enhanced modern communication, and commerce.


We are thrown into a world that includes merging our “I” identity with different groups or different ideas, often in opposition to each other: family, non-family, women, men, black, white, Americans, Chinese, socialist, libertarian, a good person, a pragmatic person, and so on.


We are thrown into a world in which we may have to be responsible for an uncountable number of prior events: your son complains, “As a father, you didn’t make me feel safe when I was a kid.”


We are thrown into a world in which we “acquire” hundreds of obvious and not-so-obvious expectations and responsibilities and accountabilities to our culture, to our family, to our friends, to our colleagues, to our company, to our community, to our government, to acquaintances, and even to strangers.


We are thrown into a world in which we have innumerable pressures and opportunities that we could respond to in order to either influence or control the future we would like, or would like to avoid, both for ourselves and for others.

We are thrown into a world in which our awareness of a future, as well as the ways that others may or may not affect us, easily awakens a sense of continuing risk and fear.


We are thrown into a world in which the number and complexity of choices that we can be aware of are galactic in comparison with the earth-bound choices that would occur for an in-the-moment mammal.


These are our blessings and these are our curses.

The "solutions" have kept the problems alive

The good news is that, with better and more accurate operational paradigms and ideas, we can maximize the blessings and minimize the curses of being the time-binders of the world.


In stepping into the world of time, humans encountered two new sets of problems and opportunities that do not occur for, and therefore do not exist for other animals.


The first, and more fundamental problems, are the conflicts that often arise within each one of us of how to take care of now, being happy now, and how to take care of the future, being happy in the future.


The second type of problem is the conflicts that often arise within each one of us of how to take care of our own personal self-interests, both currently and in the future, and how to take care of the self-interests of others, also currently and in the future.


Although not necessarily framed in these words, ethicists, philosophers, and religious leaders, and, by default, even our cultures, have been trying to address these two issues for millennia.


Unfortunately, perhaps because of their poor framing of the problem, nearly 100% of their conclusions perpetuate these two fundamental conflicts, rather than moving us in a consistent direction of resolution.

Their solutions set each of us up for the creation and perpetuation of an internal civil war

Although various thinkers about these issues are and were never fully consistent, here is the main thrust of their solutions for the first problem:


  • work hard

  • persistence

  • self-discipline

  • willpower

  • self-restraint

  • don’t be lazy

  • and sacrifice now for the future.


In short: give up happiness now for happiness in the future, whether the future be a few minutes or a few years from now. If you’re religious that “future” that you’re currently sacrificing for in order to enjoy happiness later may not come until after you die. These thinkers made our Next, the part of us that wants our future to be good, the good guy and our Now, the part of us that just wants to feel good now, the bad guy. Consequently, we are often at war within ourselves: “I feel guilty because I am so lazy that I don’t want to exercise.”

That civil war doesn't just have two factions, Now and Next, but four, including Oneself and Others

For the second fundamental ethical question, the thinkers and our cultures provided another solution that perpetuates another war. Their prescriptions are these:


  • think of others first

  • fulfill your duty to society

  • to give is better than to receive

  • the good person puts others’ welfare above his own

  • you need to look good to others and fulfill their expectations of you

  • and don’t be selfish.


In short: living for others is noble; living for yourself is petty and ungenerous. This ethics makes Others, the part of us that cares for others and wants to look good to others, the good guy and Oneself, the part of us that wants to take care of our own self-interests, the bad guy. No wonder we are often at war within ourselves: “I feel guilty that I didn’t want to lend money to my friend.”

My destiny is to bring the New Ethics of Integrity to the world shows the way towards peace, both within and among ourselves, and an end to these wars. It points the way toward solving Now-Next conflicts by providing questions and methods to create and maintain Now-Next Integrity. With that as a foundation, it resolves any Oneself-Others conflicts by providing questions and methods to create and maintain Oneself-Others Integrity.

Questions to lead you into creating and maintaining Now-Next Integrity


  • “How can I redesign my life so that my Now and my Next can both win?”

  • “In the circumstance I am faced with right now, how can Now and Next both be happy?”

  • “For a result that Next is interested in, how can Now enjoy and be excited about the process(es) involved in moving toward that result?”

  • “Is my Next showing respect and consideration for what my Now is interested in?”

  • “Is my Next forsaking blame and pressure as a way to get my Now to do what my Next wants?”

  • “Does my Next acknowledge that quitting may be just as valid and courageous an option as persistence?”

  • “Am I making friends with my fear, Undoing fear and choosing Courage, as a way to create better alignment between my Now and my Next?”

  • “Am I creating and taking things step by step, celebrating the wins of each step?”

  • “Am I choosing courage to accept the risk by making friends with the fear that things may not turn out the way that I would like?”

  • "Am I honoring myself for and prioritizing choosing courage and enjoying the process over whether or not I get the result I'm going for?"

  • "Am I tolerating some circumstance? If so, am I taking this as a red flag to choose courage so that I am no longer tolerating this circumstance?"

  • “Am I bringing my awareness to now, immersing myself in the okayness of every moment?”

  • “Am I speaking and feeling detailed gratitude for all that I have, all that I experience, and all that is already working as I would like?”

  • “Am I present to the fact that I have enough to eat and, after that, everything else is a game?”

  • "Am I consistently presencing myself to the fact that my life is a cornucopia of games that I can choose or re-choose to have fun with and that I prioritize the process and enjoying the journey above getting any particular results?

  • “In planning my day or week, am I setting it up so that my Now, in enjoying the process, and my Next, going for some result, can both win? Am I underpromising? Am I consistently planning time and money buffers.”

Questions to lead you toward creating and maintaining Oneself-Others Integrity

  • “How can I redesign my life so that my Oneself, both short-term and long-term, and my Others, both short-term and long-term, can both win?”

  • “In this circumstance right now, how can my Oneself and my Others both be happy?”

  • “Regarding this Oneself-Others issue, am I getting in someone else’s business or in God’s business, rather than tending to my own business?”

  • “Am I choosing courage to make requests of others to facilitate my Oneself and my Others both winning?”

  • “Am I choosing courage to say ‘no’ to others to facilitate a Oneself-Others win?”

  • “Am I honoring myself for choosing courage, regardless of the outcome?”

  • “Am I choosing courage to set and maintain good boundaries with others to facilitate a Oneself-Others win?”

  • "Am I tolerating another person? If so, am I taking this as a red flag to choose courage so that I am no longer tolerating this person?"

  • “Am I acknowledging and recognizing that the best world for everyone is a world in which ways are found for each person’s self-interest, short-term and long-term, reinforces the self-interest of others with whom that person interacts and transacts with?”

  • “Am I acknowledging that, should there seem to be an unresolvable conflict between my self-interests, both short-term and long-term, and the self-interests of another, both short-term and long-term, then my number one priority is to take care of myself, just as their number one priority is to take care of themselves?”

  • "Am I recognizing and acting on the fact that if I take 100% responsibility in my relationships with everyone else, then I will find myself neither blaming them nor myself?"

  • “Am I choosing courage, Undoing fear, to let go of blame toward another to foster curiosity and interest in creating/discovering win-win solutions?”

  • “Am I recognizing the truth of the expression, ‘Defense is the first act of war’ (Byron Katie)? Am I choosing courage to create an attitude of goodwill, curiosity, and partnership with others, letting go of blame and defensiveness?”

  • “Am I showing respect and consideration for others being concerned about their own self-interests just as I show respect and consideration for my own self-interests?”

  • “Am I practicing the power of listening and being deeply interested in understanding another’s interests and perspectives? Are they getting that I am listening to them? Am I remembering Stephen Covey’s ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’?”

  • “When in conversation with another, am I focused on being present with them, perhaps even seeking to connect soul-to-soul with them?”

Integrity, peace, happiness

Let’s end the civil wars within. The time has come in your life for peace, integrity, and happiness. You now know the questions to keep asking to move you along that path to peace. As you ask yourself these questions, again and again, you will discover and be reminded of the answers that will mend the rift and bridge the gap between your Now and your Next, between your Oneself and your Others, creating joy both in the processes and the results, both in your selfishness and in your caring for others.


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