I recently saw a TED talk on the personal concept of time that has really had me thinking the last few weeks. In this TED talk Professor Philip Zimbardo conveys how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. I also found an illustrated version of his talk here. So far on this blog I have talked a lot about destiny and about living in the moment. I think it is apparent that I feel that I haven’t been living in the moment enough and have been striving to do so since being back from Burning Man. I have always lived my life as a future oriented person, sacrificing the now to build a better life for myself tomorrow. This has gotten me to places where most people my age wouldn’t even think about being at this point, but at the same time I know I have sacrificed a lot of joy and fun experiences by constantly putting my time towards something productive.
I have looked at my past way of life, of constantly looking to tomorrow instead of living for today, as a hindrance to my happiness. However; Professor Zimbardo makes some very strong points about the 6 different time zones that all of us tend to live in: past negative, past positive, present hedonist, present fatalist, future life goal oriented, and future transcendental. To briefly explain each, the past oriented people tend to focus on memories and events that transpired in their past, either deciding to focus on the positive memories or the negative ones. For the present oriented person they are either a hedonist, only seeking pleasure and avoiding pain while seeking knowledge, and a present fatalist who believes that everything is set in stone and we have no control over our lives. Then there are the future oriented people who are either goal oriented and constantly working towards some future point or the transcendental type who believe that our life only begins after death and that this life is only the platform for the next.
He goes on to discuss the benefits of each time zone, saying that we need a good mixture of the three positive aspects of past, present, and future in order to live our lives to the highest potential. He states that by having a sense of past positive we have roots and are connected to our identity and family, we are grounded. Our future time perspective gives us wings and allows us to soar to new destinations and challenges. And our present hedonism gives us energy to explore people, places, our self and sensuality. If we spend too much of our time in the future time zone, we end up sacrificing time with friends and family, hobbies, sleep, and other personal indulgences which are understandably very important to most humans’ happiness. I think that most would agree that this is a common theme of the culture here in the US.
I feel that each of us has a different combination of the three time zones in order to live a fulfilling life but it can be very enlightening to realize that we each go in and out of these different time zones whether positive or negative and it has a huge impact on how we respond to situations and how the path of our life ends up going in general. It has done me a lot of good to look at my own life and evaluate how I have been living in the different time zones and how I can modify that to live a more peaceful, happy life. It has already led to me spending more time on hobbies and personal indulgences, but at the same time not sacrificing the future goals I have and have been working towards for so many years now. I want to live in the now, but I don’t want to forget my past or stop thinking about the future.