Week 10: I haven’t got the Time!

It seems that the very week I was going to write about Time, I lost track of it! Sorry about that, but where did April go?? So, back to our discussions about the nature of positive change and new positive psychological perspectives that have an effect on it. Philip Zimbardo, the scientist behind Time Perspectives, calls the phenomenon “something that influences every single decision you make about which you are totally unaware“. Is it just me, but I’m addicted to finding out more given a sentence like that?!

When we talk about positive change, there is an implicit assumption that people are able to look into the future and adapt their perspective from the here and now to the what if? Time perspectives suggests that this isn’t the case, with everyone having a bias towards the past, present or future. There are, so research suggests, 5 time perspectives:

  1. Past Positive (you look back fondly at the past)
  2. Past Negative (you perceive your past negatively or critically)
  3. Present Hedonistic (live in the present for fun; feelings; stimulation)
  4. Present Fatalistic (nothing you can do in the present makes a difference)
  5. Future Orientation (achievement, work, responsibilities and goals oriented)

Research suggests that our time perspective is learned and resetting your psychological time clock is possible and worthwhile. So firstly, to find out what your time perspective is, go the the website, http://www.thetimeparadox.com and take the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory (the link is at the lower right hand corner of the home page).

The research also suggests the optimal time perspective profile is:

  • High in past-positive time perspective
  • Moderately highly in future time perspective
  • Moderately high in present-hedonistic time perspective
  • Low in past-negative time perspective
  • Low in present-fatalistic time perspective.

This blend offers three critical advantages:

A sense of a positive past gives you roots. The centre of self-affirmation, the past connects you to yourself over time and across place. A positive past grounds, you, provides a sense of the continuity of life and allows you to be connected to family, tradition and your cultural inheritance.

With a future perspective, you can envision a future filled with hope, optimism and power. The future gives you wings that enable you to soar to new destinations and to be confident in your ability to deal with the unexpected challenges that you might encounter on the way. It equips you to escape the status quo, the fear inherent in straying from the safe, known ways, the well-travelled roads to your destination.

A hedonistic present gives you energy and joy about being alive. That energy drives to explore people, places and self. Present hedonism is life affirming, in moderation, for it opens the senses to appreciation of nature and the pleasure of human sexuality.

So, this week explore your own Time Perspective and how it affects the decisions you make. You’ll start to also see how a shared or different perspective can be the source of agreements or disagreements. To listen and learn more, check out Philip Zimbardo’s excellent 7 minute talk below:

And if you haven’t got the time to do it… think roots, wings and energy!


About positiveinsights

serial juggler; trainer; coach; mum; positive psychologist; elvis backing singer (yes really); writer; well-being curriculum designer; perennial pragmatist; triathlete in training...
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