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For me, with the adoption of the evolutionary world view came a profound appreciation of and respect for time. The amazing world we live in is a result of billions of years’ accumulative small changes. Looking at time in this light has enabled me to be more patient, more mindful of my surroundings and more hopeful about what the future promises.

Today people all over the globe are obsessed with speed: fast food, quick diet, instant gratification, becoming rich faster … Speed is fun and sexy, a symbol of power and success. Constant rushing fills our head with busyness and excitement that pushes such deeper questions out of the way, “Am I happy? Am I healthy? What are my goals?”

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo says that happiness and success are rooted in a trait most of us disregard: the way we orient towards the past, the present and future. According to Zimbardo there are six Time Perspective factors: past orientation – past positive or past negative, present orientation – hedonism or fatalist, and future focus – life-goal-pursuit or transcendental (life only begins after death).

The past is our roots and our connection to who we are today. Past positive allows us learn from past experiences, make sense out of it and then turn it into part of the coherent story of our lives. Present hedonism gives us permission to live for the moment, to indulge, to enjoy life and the people around us. If you don’t know how to live in the present, you are not really living. People who are future oriented tend to be more driven, hardworking and successful in live. A group of 4-year olds was offered mash mallows with the choices of eating one now or getting another one if they could wait till the experimenters came back. Two thirds of the kids couldn’t wait. Fourteen years later, Stanford researchers tracked these kids down and reported that the kids who waited scored 250 points higher in SAT test and were generally better students. However, an overly futuristic drive can lead to the sacrifice of family time, friendship, fun, or sleep which isn’t good for your health. Knowing our time perspective biases (the tendency to overuse some and under use others), we need to consciously form a balanced approach: high on past-positive, moderately high on future and moderate on present-hedonism, always low on past negative and present fatalism. “Developing the mental flexibility to shift time perspectives fluidly – depending on the demands of the situation, allowing one time zone to take precedence while others recede temporarily.”

This optimal temporal mix has transformed my life. Never before have I been so productive, motivated, satisfied and enjoyed deeper and more meaningful relationships with those I love.