Guinea Pig says:-
Consider this – most, if not all, of our decisions are based on our attitude towards time.
This was based on a landmark research involving 4-year olds and marshmallows (the “Marshmallow Test”). In this research, a group of kids was placed in a room and was given a single marshmallow by the researcher. As the researcher steps out, the kids are to refrain from eating the marshmallow over the duration of a few minutes. If the kids successfully managed to refrain from eating the marshmallow, they will be rewarded with a second one. Naturally, the group will be divided between those who refrained and those who didn’t. Now, the interesting twist to this research is that the researcher actually followed the life progress of these kids for 18 years. And concluded that those kids who refrained from eating the marshmallow generally did better in school and in life. This difference was attributed to the kid understanding a very crucial life concept early on, which is the concept of delayed gratification. In other words, he/she is future focused (future reward), rather than present focused (present pleasure).
This is not to say that we should approach everything in life through the lens of a future focus. Because as with many things in life, everything has its downsides when wrongly applied. In the case of being future focus, while one may be motivated and driven by the ambition to achieve for oneself, that very focus on the future tend to come at the expense of the important things in ones personal life (that benefit more from the ability to enjoy the pleasure of the present moment). For example, family, friends and relationship may take a backseat as a result; even ones personal health gets compromised from this future focus, from the lack of sleep, for example (which I’m sure many are guilty of!)
Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist, concluded that for life happiness one needs to strive to achieve an optimal balance of 3 types of time perspectives:
- PAST (What was): Focus on the PAST-Positives; and minimise focus on PAST-Negatives
- PRESENT (What is): Moderate on PRESENT-Hedonism (pleasure seeking); and minimise on PRESENT-Fatalism (the believe that all things are predetermined and one is powerless to change it)
- FUTURE (What will be): Moderately high on FUTURE (life goal orientation)
But why is it necessary to maintain a balance of 3 time perspectives? This was nicely summarised as: “PAST positives gives you roots; PRESENT hedonism gives you energy; FUTURE gives you wings.”
For a more detailed rundown of the above theory, check out the video link (while I give in to the PRESENT can catch up on some sleep).