Psychologist Philip Zimbardo says happiness and success are rooted in a trait most of us disregard: the way we orient toward the past, present and future. He suggests we calibrate our outlook on time as a first step to improving our lives
Interestingly enough having recently re-read George Lakoff’s Metaphors We Live By , Zimbardo’s perspective seem’s to make a lot sense. Lakoff’s book also opens with a lengthy discussion of how the ways we talk about time influence the decisions that we make: time is money, time is a resource, time is moving, etc. he also goes on to discuss how much our mindset, which is shaped by culture, affects our decisions. Not entirely sure how comfortable I am with Zimbardo’s thesis on the optimal temporal mix, although at first glance it seems to make perfect sense:
So, very quickly, what is the optimal time profile? High on past-positive. Moderately high on future. And moderate on present-hedonism. And always low on past-negative and present-fatalism. So the optimal temporal mix is what you get from the past — past-positive give you roots. You connect your family, identity and your self. What you get from the future is wings to soar to new destinations, new challenges. What you get from the present hedonism is the energy, the energy to explore yourself, places, people, sensuality.
Any time perspective in excess has more negatives than positives. What do futures sacrifice for success? They sacrifice family time. They sacrifice friend time. They sacrifice fun time. They sacrifice personal indulgence. They sacrifice hobbies. And they sacrifice sleep. So it affects their health. And they live for work, achievement and control. I’m sure that resonates with some of the TEDsters.
Zimbardo seemed to be rushing along very fast which is probably why its taking time to fully appreciate his ideas, yet there is something that resonates deeply within me. What do others think?