life tales

time perspectives

19 March, 2017

There are few more satisfying pastimes than finishing a good book. As much as I hate to admit it, it’s a pastime that I engage in far too infrequently. Perhaps it is the amount of time I spend reading and writing each day, or my personal qualms about starting something that I can’t finish, but it has taken me far too long to pick up a book. It’s not that I have time to read or that I don’t enjoy it. That’s clear from the amount of time I spend reading articles, scrolling through blogs and keeping up to date with latest news. It’s more that I don’t spend the time that I have committed to finishing a book. And since I have spent too much time focusing on other things, my to-read list has grown so long that I haven’t even known where to start.

Since starting commuting to my new work via train, I decided that it was time to get intentional about reading again. So instead of joining my fellow commuters in their daily 30-minute phone session, I picked up a book. And my goodness it was good. There really is nothing that quite compares to the way that a book opens your mind.

I stumbled across the “The Time Paradox” by Phillip Zimbado and John Boyd by accident one day when going through the library in my Aunty’s building looking for some reading inspiration.  For those of you who know me or have been reading this blog for a while, you would already know that I am fascinated by time. Be it the Type A personality in me, or a series of past experiences that have challenged the way I look at time, but I highly value the significance of time. Aside from relationships, it’s the most valuable thing that we have. Regardless of how we chose to spend it, it flows out of our time-accounts at a constant rate. And as hard as we may try, there is no getting time back. Respecting your time and the time of others is critical. So, you can imagine my excitement when I came across a book written by one of the most influential psychology researchers of our time (does the Stamford Prison experiment ring a bell?) about the topic.

“The Time Paradox” explores the impact of time perspectives in our lives. There are 5 time perspectives that are identified in the book:

  • Past-oriented
  • Present-oriented 
  • Present-fatalistic
  • Present-hedonistic
  • Future-orientated

You can read a full description of each here and find out what time perspective you have here.

Again, it probably comes as no surprise that I am predominantly a future-oriented person, preferring to delay immediate gratification for the sake of future gains, carefully planning, and making decisions based more on how they influence the future than the present. Whilst it has been instrumental in helping me to successful achieve goals and perform well in many areas of my life, it is something that I have recently had to be mindful of, lest it take away my enjoyment of the present.

When it comes to thinking about the past, thankfully when I do think of it I am very positive about it, preferring to view experiences as positive learnings that I move on from, rather than ruminate on negatives or constantly look down on where I am in the present compared to the past. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my fair share of moments focusing on mistakes and going over and over where I went wrong about past situations (is it just me, or do relationships bring this out in others?). But over time, I have been more and more intentional about accepting what has happened, and using what I have learned to shape future experiences for the better.  

As far as reading books go, I must admit that I chose a great place to start. A bit of extra motivation about making the most out of life whilst getting back into good reading habits again is not a bad outcome. The book explores some incredible themes around time (e.g. terrorism, rehabilitation programs, financial success), and is definitely worth a read.

What time perspective do you think you have? Please share in the comments below. I would also love your recommendations about what I should read next.

xx Liz



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