260252-Fabric_of_the_Cosmos_03Some of you may already be aware that we have 86,400 seconds to live each day. Every year, we use 31,526,000 seconds. On average, we are expected to live about 78.7 years. So we have approximately 2,481,883,200 seconds to play with before we die. Who knew that there existed so much opportunity, or rather, so much lost opportunity? Which begs the question, “How best to use the time that has been given to us?”

Interesting. So I went to my favorite source of learning, TED, and discovered Phil Zimbardo. RSA animated one of his talks about time. You can check them out here, as well as, other awesome animated lectures:


Back to Phil. Phil believes that differences in time perspectives are at the root of all conflicts. Yep, it wasn’t that so and so was a jerk, and it may be true that he was a jerk. (Trust me, he was DEFINITELY a jerk) But, rather, he was a jerk because I was future oriented and he was present oriented. Hmmm.

We have six time orientations, Phil says. There are 2 perspectives for past, for present and for future. It seems to me that how we view time is analogous to how we view an opportunity, i.e., hide, embrace, or utilize it as part of an overall strategy? Could he have a point about conflicts when my frame of reference differs from yours?

Past oriented people tend to view time as something to endure. They can be either nostalgic or regretful. Nostalgic as in, “Things were better back then when we didn’t have the Internet, because kids went out and played,” or regretful, as in “I made so many bad mistakes, I just want to go back to a time before all this happened…”

Present oriented people tend to view time as a finite resource that is out of their control, hence they need to capitalize on the moment – like yesterday. They tend to say things like, ” You never know what tomorrow will bring, so I am going to… or “No time like the present …” Zimbardo believes these people tend to be hedonistic, because as in a famous 1D song screams,

“Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy till we see the sun
I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love
And never, never, never stop for anyone
Tonight let’s get some And live while we’re young”

I am wondering if hedonism is a bad thing.

Future oriented people have faith. They trust that things will get better. They tend to make plans and defer gratification. They believe the best is yet to come. They manage doubt beautifully.

Do you see yourself in any of these orientations? Most people are a hybrid of two, Phil says. I say I may choose an orientation depending on circumstance. For example, I may be future oriented when it comes to work issues, but present oriented when it comes to that chocolate brownie staring me down! Or maybe the orientation is choosing me?

I wonder if I have the control to choose an orientation? Could I use it like a strategy, as when I stare down a brownie? How could I capitalize on a time perspective? You know, make it work for me instead of it controlling me? Am I even aware that my actions are influenced by this relationship? What would this awareness do for me, anyway?

Stay tuned. I have 604,800 seconds to figure it out.

Until next time,