One of the reasons we love to order from Amazon is the speed. You can get a new shoes on your doorstep tomorrow.
In downtown Chicago, you can get fresh fruit within two hours. Amazon creates instant gratification.
Paradoxically, however, Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, thinks primarily of the long-term. His perspective is the opposite of instant gratification.
A few years ago he funded a big clock tower in West Texas that ticks once per years. It is built to last 10,000 years!
This fact brings to mind a passage from the Book of Psalms. “A thousand years in your sight, oh God, is like a day that has just gone by.” (Psalms 90:4) From God’s perspective, a thousand years is like one day.
Short- vs. Long-Term Thinking
That’s why we study the Bible Its teachings remind us to look at our lives not as a series of unconnected moments, but as a story with a past, present and future. The story began long before us and continues long after us.
The faith perspective is the opposite of the political one. With Facebook and instant news updates, we seem to know every hour who is up in the polls, by how much, and how it changed because of yesterday’s commercial and the speech she gave this morning. Our leaders think in terms of the next news cycle, not the next generation.
That’s one of the reasons religious teachers and teachings need to stay clear of partisan politics. We have enough short-term thinking. The world needs the long-term perspective we teach. It needs the truths and practices that endure through the ages.
The Key to Success and Happiness
Long-term thinking makes all the difference in achieving anything worthwhile. Consider financial success. Every advisor will tell you that the earlier you start investing, the more you will gain by the time you retire.
Starting investing at age 25 rather than 35 can quadruple your results because of the power of compounding. Compounding only happens with a long-term perspective.
Or consider happiness. We are much happier when we achieve something that takes work and effort and struggle. Studies suggest married couples are happiest in the first few years of marriage, and then after 25 years of marriage. The messy middle is where we need to keep the long-term perspective in mind.
The forty years the Israelites spend in the wilderness before they reach the Promised Land is the ultimate exercise in long-term thinking. Freedom from Egypt took three days. Freedom to live in peace and happiness took forty years.
Or, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put it, “Count the years, not the days.”