Think Differently About Time, by Todd W. Hall, PhD

4 Ways to Create a Kairos Life in 2015

When significant events happen in you life, think about them in terms of kairos. How can you make the most of the opportunity? What can you do, learn, see, or experience with respect to this event?

by Todd W. Hall, PhD • Rosemead School of Psychology

spiral-clockI don’t know about you, but I’m often thinking about “the next thing” instead of focusing on “the present thing.” Even though the time is now to do the present thing, I want to do something else, be somewhere else, or feel something else.

I’ve been working on a big writing project for a long time. Now is the time to read, think, ponder, and write notes about the subject. But I’m tired of doing this. Or, maybe I don’t trust that I’ll be able to pull it together into something coherent and meaningful. I want it to be the time to write the last, triumphant sentence.

A friend’s illness just took a turn for the worse. The time is now to feel it and process all the implications, but I don’t want to think about it, or feel it. I want it to be time for something else. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

We so often don’t accept the time given for a particular project, to-do, task, experience, or activity. And it’s all related to how we think about time. It’s hard to express this idea in English because it’s so foreign to our way of thinking and being in the world. A time “given” for something? A time “set aside” for something? A time when it just “seems right” to do something? Sort of… but none of these phrases quite capture the notion, and they’re all a bit clunky.

Kairos vs. Chronos

The Greeks have a better word for this idea: kairos. Whereas chronos refers to an amount of time, kairos refers to the right, or opportune time for something. In the New Testament, kairos refers to the appointed time in God’s purposes.


Whatever we call it, we often resist it and maybe don’t even see it. We want to get on to the next victory, or get away from the present pain. We’re so often blind to kairos—at least to the more unpleasant or painful experiences whose time has come. This causes us to miss out on the richness of the present experiences life has brought our way.

There is a time for…

As I find myself firmly—even if disconcertedly—ensconced in middle age, I’ve been realizing this more and more: every year, every month, every week—even everyday at times—there is a time for the many and varied activities and experiences in our lives.

A time to read; a time to write.

A time to be with people; a time to be alone.

A time to laugh; a time to cry.

A time to withdraw; a time to reach out.

A time to back down; a time to stand up.

A time to hold on; a time to let go.

A time to rejoice; a time to mourn.

A time to push back; a time to build up.

A time to criticize; a time to encourage.

A time to be distant; a time to get close.

A time to play it safe; a time to take risks.

A time to celebrate; a time to long for.

A time to make plans; a time to throw out plans.

A time to start things; a time to end things.

A time to say yes; a time to say no.

A time to express emotions; a time to constrain emotions.

A time to strive for what could be; a time to accept what is.

A time to be overwhelmed; a time to be empowered.

A time to practice; a time to perform.

A time to stay; a time to leave.

A time to embrace complexity; a time to simplify.

A time to learn; a time to teach.

A time to connect with like-minded friends;

A time to reach out to those who are different.

A time to look back; a time to look ahead.

Kairos Moments: 4 Practices

These are just a few kairos moments that resonate with my experience. I’m sure there are many more. They are not all pleasant, but they all have a place in leading a fulfilled life…

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Todd-Hall-LOGO-2014-may-e1400621894177Todd W. Hall, PhD is Professor of Psychology, Director of the Institute for Research on Psychology and Spirituality, and Editor of the Journal of Psychology and Theology, at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, in the Los Angeles area. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Biola University, and a doctoral specialization in measurement and psychometrics from UCLA. Using his expertise in clinical psychology, spirituality, leadership, and organizational development, Dr. Hall helps leaders and organizations maximize their potential and effectiveness.