• Quote of the Day
    "Worrying is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
    Van Wilder, posted by Daniel

David Baxter

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Past, present or future?
Health Psych
Monday, April 13, 2009

Anxiety often comes from the future, of not knowing what is to come. When that's the case, it's often helpful to bring ourselves back to the present. After all, we often have limited control over the future, we certainly can't change the past, and so the present is all we can deal with.

However, a certain degree of forward thinking and preparation can be useful. For some of us, me included, worrying about the future, working through a number of possible future scenarios can enable us to feel prepared and better able to cope. Of course, it's all about degree. When the 'what if' scenarios build upon each other to the extent that we end up anticipating things that really have next-to-zero chance of happening, it becomes a problem.

So, it's interesting to read about new work by Philip Zimbardo. In his new book, Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life, he argues that decision-making is largely orientated by our orientation towards the past, present or future, although most of us use a blend of past, present or future thinking.

In particular, he relates our orientation to health, with future thinkers likely to be healthier and live longer. A view supported by a recent study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology (see reference below) that shows people who are future thinkers adopt better health behaviours (less drug use, safe sex practices, smoke less and have healthier BMIs).

More information
Reference
Adams, J., Nettle, D. (2009). Time perspective, personality and smoking, body mass, and physical activity: An empirical study. British Journal of Health Psychology, 14, 83-105.
 

Daniel

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What’s Your Time Perspective?

...Ideally, we can learn to shift our attention easily between the past, present and future, and consciously adapt our mindset to any given situation. Learning to switch time perspectives allows us to fully take part in everything we do, whether it’s a relaxed evening enjoying a glass of wine or reminiscing about long-ago events with an old friend.

Vital though this skill is, since time perspective is largely an unconscious and habitual way of viewing things, it takes a concerted effort to improve our use of it...

Zimbardo identified five key approaches to time perspective. These are:

  1. The ‘past-negative’ type. You focus on negative personal experiences that still have the power to upset you. This can lead to feelings of bitterness and regret.
  2. The ‘past-positive’ type. You take a nostalgic view of the past, and stay in very close contact with your family. You tend to have happy relationships, but the downside is a cautious, “better safe than sorry” approach which may hold you back.
  3. The ‘present-hedonistic’ type. You are dominated by pleasure-seeking impulses, and are reluctant to postpone feeling good for the sake of greater gain later. You are popular but tend to have a less healthy lifestyle and take more risks.
  4. The ‘present-fatalistic’ type. You aren’t enjoying the present but feel trapped in it, unable to change the inevitability of the future. This sense of powerlessness can lead to anxiety,depression and risk-taking.
  5. The ‘future-focused’ type. You are highly ambitious, focused on goals, and big on making ‘to do’ lists. You tend to feel a nagging sense of urgency that can create stress for yourself and those around you. Your investment in the future can come at the cost of close relationships and recreation time.


---------- Post added at 11:38 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:37 PM ----------

 

Daniel

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Giving Time Can Give You Time
Association for Psychological Science
July 12, 2012

Many people these days feel a sense of “time famine”—never having enough minutes and hours to do everything. We all know that our objective amount of time can’t be increased (there are only 24 hours in a day), but a new study suggests that volunteering our limited time—giving it away— may actually increase our sense of unhurried leisure.

Across four different experiments, researchers found that people’s subjective sense of having time, called ‘time affluence,’ can be increased: compared with wasting time, spending time on oneself, and even gaining a windfall of ‘free’ time, spending time on others increased participants’ feelings of time affluence.

Lead researcher and psychological scientist Cassie Mogilner of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania believes this is because giving away time boosts one’s sense of personal competence and efficiency, and this in turn stretches out time in our minds. Ultimately, giving time makes people more willing to commit to future engagements despite their busy schedules.

This new research, conducted by Mogilner and co-authors Zoe Chance of the Yale School of Management and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, is forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
 

Daniel

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We each have a personal balance.

Living in the present and for the future are essential parts of a well-lived and meaningful life.


And just like how people differ in their coffee or beverage of choice, there are differing weights on the scale of present and future. Some people take their time and prioritize the present self on the path they’re currently on. Others may take a quicker pace in working for the future and are okay with sacrificing a bit more in the present.

Ultimately the balance is up to you.

While it’s not always an easy balance to strike, the balance of living in the present and for the future is key to appreciating the journey and a sustainable build towards your long-term goals.
 
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