No matter who we are or where we live, we all have a limited time on earth. We all want to make the best use of the time we have
Being introduced to “psychology of time” in a TED Talk by Philip Zimbardo, gave me new perspective of the differences between individuals, communities and countries. It complements other models of personality development, and can provide insight into what type of time perspective we have and how we can become more efficient users of our time.
To give you a sense of your own current time perspectives, five perspectives are summarized below. Note, there is no right or wrong, we have them all within us – great for self-insight!
PAST – generally more concerned with their past (what was)
- Past-negative. Remembering the past focused on regret and failure, reliving all the things that went wrong. The past retains power often leading to feelings of guilt, distrust, bitterness and regret.
- Past-positive. Taking a nostalgic view of the past, remembering the good old times. Tending to be traditional and conservative with a stable sense of self.
PRESENT – tending to focus on the present, on their current sensations, feelings and concerns (what is)
- Present-hedonistic. Reluctant to postpone feeling good for the sake of greater gain later, living life to the full, making the most of every day, perhaps with a less healthy lifestyle.
- Present-fatalistic. Feeling trapped in the present, with a general belief that fate controls life, don’t believe they have control or personal power in their lives.
FUTURE – concerned with the future consequences of present actions (what will be)
- Future. Highly ambitious, focused on goals, able to endure unpleasant situations to achieve long term goals. Investment in the future may come at the cost of close relationships and “me” time.
All five types come into play in our lives at some point and, there will probably be one or two which you focus on more. Identify these and you can start developing a more flexible, healthier approach to life in general and the way you spend your time.
Do you spend more time thinking about the past, present or future?
When you think about the past, present or future are your thoughts positive or negative, happy or sad, hopeful or fearful?