Philip Zimbardo is a psychologist who believes that happiness is tied into our interpretation of time. Many relationship and personal issues can be solved by understanding our differing time perspectives.
This is Day Four of my Seven Days Of Happiness Series, where I watch TED talks for seven days instead of watching television, to increase my happiness and excitement for life.
From a number of research studies it has been shown that, on average, two thirds of children are incapable of resisting temptation. The other third, who can resist and delay gratification, grow up more self confident and successful in life. Why? Because they are future focused not present focused. Our Time Perspective has a big influence on our life success and happiness.
Biased Time Perspectives
The are four basic time perspective types. People have various biases to these different types. They are: Future-Orientation, Past-Orientation, Present-Hedonistic Orientation, and Present-Fatalistic Orientation.
Here is a quick overview of each type.
- find it difficult to delay gratification.
- focused on what is rather than what might be or used to be
- give in easily to temptation
- self indulgent
- loves the good life and accompanying risks
- does not think about negative consequences of actions
- vulnerable to addictions
- emotional and easily upset
- feels that life is externally controlled and that they have no control
- sees little opportunity for changing their circumstance
- likely to experience depression, eating disorders and drug addiction
- often engage in high risk activities
- makes decisions based on concrete evidence
- if-then reasoning
- attention to responsibility
- willing to delay immediate gratification to achieve longer term goals
- this trait helps you be well grounded and connected to your identity and family
- focused on obligations, rituals and standards
- influenced by guilt
- tend not to be adventurous
Time Paradox Time Perspective Surveys
You can determine your own time perspective by taking two free Time Paradox Surveys. I have listed my scores below as well as the ideal time perspectives in brackets. The areas I need to work on for myself are highlighted in red.
Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory Survey (ZTPI)
My scores. The ideal scores are in brackets.
Past-negative 3.70 (1.95)
Past-positive 3.44 (4.60)
Present-hedonistic 3.73 (1.5)
Present-fatalistic 3.33 (3.9)
Future 3.85 (4.0)
Transcendental-future Time Perspective Inventory Survey (TTPI).
My scores. The ideal scores are in brackets. I think the score just highlights that I am a spiritual type person.
Transcendental-future 3.80 (3.3)
My Next Action
These surveys are beneficial. It highlighted two areas I need to work on in my life. I have a Past-negative orientation. Some events that occurred in my past have definitely persisted in my thoughts and influenced my present. I need to let go of the past or think more of the past from a “lessons learned” perspective.
The other area is my hedonism. I am a gadget freak. I lust after the latest iPhones and iPads. But do I really need them? Will they make my life better? In our consumerism based society I think hedonism is out of control.
On a positive note, I think that being involved in the 100 Day Challenge has improved my Future Time Perspective score. It has forced me to set goals and look forward to a exciting future. Mindfulness has also allowed me to improve my Present-fatalistic perspective by being less judgmental and upset when things don’t work out.
Try out the surveys and let us know how you scored in the comments below?