The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life

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9781416541981: The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life

Your every significant choice -- every important decision you make -- is determined by a force operating deep inside your mind: your perspective on time -- your internal, personal time zone. This is the most influential force in your life, yet you are virtually unaware of it. Once you become aware of your personal time zone, you can begin to see and manage your life in exciting new ways.

In The Time Paradox, Drs. Zimbardo and Boyd draw on thirty years of pioneering research to reveal, for the first time, how your individual time perspective shapes your life and is shaped by the world around you. Further, they demonstrate that your and every other individual's time zones interact to create national cultures, economics, and personal destinies.

You will discover what time zone you live in through Drs. Zimbardo and Boyd's revolutionary tests. Ask yourself:

· Does the smell of fresh-baked cookies bring you back to your childhood?

· Do you believe that nothing will ever change in your world?

· Do you believe that the present encompasses all and the future and past are mere abstractions?

· Do you wear a watch, balance your checkbook, and make to-do lists -- every day?

· Do you believe that life on earth is merely preparation for life after death?

· Do you ruminate over failed relationships?

· Are you the life of every party -- always late, always laughing, and always broke?


These statements are representative of the seven most common ways people relate to time, each of which, in its extreme, creates benefits and pitfalls. The Time Paradox is a practical plan for optimizing your blend of time perspectives so you get the utmost out of every minute in your personal and professional life as well as a fascinating commentary about the power and paradoxes of time in the modern world.

No matter your time perspective, you experience these paradoxes. Only by understanding this new psychological science of time zones will you be able to overcome the mental biases that keep you too attached to the past, too focused on immediate gratification, or unhealthily obsessed with future goals. Time passes no matter what you do -- it's up to you to spend it wisely and enjoy it well. Here's how.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., a professor emeritus at Stanford University and past president of the American Psychological Association, designed and narrated the award-winning PBS series Discovering Psychology. He has written more than fifty books, including the New York Times bestseller The Lucifer Effect, and lives in San Francisco.

John Boyd, Ph.D., received his doctorate in psychology from Stanford University, where he worked closely with Philip developing the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory. His professional experience includes director of scientific affairs at Alertness Solutions, director of research at Yahoo!, and, currently, research manager at Google. He lives in Dublin, California, with his wife, Nancy.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

one

WHY TIME MATTERS

YOUR TIME IS FINITE

In the eighteenth century, a secretive sect of men created a gruesome memorial to the importance of time in the dim, dusty basement of Santa Maria della Concezione, a nondescript church at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Like the great St. Peter's, which towers nearby, the cramped walls of Santa Maria della Concezione are covered with individual tessera from which transcendent mosaics emerge. Unlike those in St. Peter's, the decorative tessera adorning the narrow confines of Santa Maria della Concezione are made not of colored glass but of discolored human bone. Hundreds of stacked skulls form Roman arches. Thousands of individual vertebrae create intricate mandalas. Smaller bones, perhaps from hands and feet, form chandeliers replete with lighbulbs. The complete skeleton of a small boy dangles from the ceiling holding the scales of justice in its bony hands. And fully dressed monks with withered skin still intact wait in reflective poses for eternity. The sheer spectacle is at once terrifying and enthralling.

Capuchin monks, better known for giving the name of their distinctive hats to coffee topped with foam, or cappuccino, reinterred four thousand of their deceased brethren in this basement because their earlier "final resting place" had become the site of new construction. Despite its solemn content, the almost surreal Crypt of the Capuchin Monks with its posed corpses has the feel of a Hollywood movie set or an exceptionally well-done Halloween display. For most visitors, the crypt is a sight to be seen, not a site for serious contemplation, and tourists shuffle through it each year paying less homage to the dead before them than they do to works of art in the nearby Vatican museum.

To someone who is not eager to rush off to the next wonder on his itinerary, a deeper message reveals itself. For instance, when one of your authors, John Boyd, had an unexpected free afternoon to visit the Crypt of the Capuchin Monks, he noticed an inscription written on the floor at the foot of a pile of bones:

What you are, they once were.

What they are, you will be.

As he read that flowing script of twelve simple words, the past and future burst upon the present. In an instant, the skeletons ceased to be historical curiosities and became fellow travelers on life's fateful journey -- our peers. Four hundred years of sunrises and sunsets, fifteen thousand days of feasts, famines, wars, and peace no longer separate us, becoming as inconsequential as the color of the monks' dried skin and ivoried bones, the medieval Latin they spoke, or the style of their robes. The inscription strips us of our well-honed psychological ability to ignore -- even to deny -- the inevitable: Our time on earth is limited. In the mere blink of the cosmic eye, we will join the billions of our ancestors who have lived, died, and become indistinguishable from the piles of bones in front of us.

The crypt is a solemn reminder to the living of our ultimate destiny. While Rome's other attractions display the life's work of some of the world's greatest artists, this crypt stores remnants of the lives themselves. If the bones could talk, they would tell stories of thousands of aspiring Leonardos, Michelangelos, and Raphaels lying there. Yet the crypt's silent message is not an admonition that we prepare for death but an impassioned plea that we live meaningfully and fully the lives we are living right now.

That is the subject of this book -- time and your life: how you can strengthen, deepen, and even reinvent your relationship to it by using the exciting new discoveries we have made in our thirty-plus years of research on time. We want to share with you a new science and psychology of time that we developed based on personal, scholarly, and experimental investigations. Your personal attitudes toward time and those that you share with people around you have a powerful effect on all of human nature, yet their importance is underappreciated by most people, academics and laypeople alike. This is the first paradox of time: Your attitudes toward time have a profound impact on your life and your world, yet you seldom recognize it.

In the course of our work, we have identified six major attitudes toward time, or time perspectives. We will first help you to identify your personal time perspectives and then we will offer exercises designed to expand your time orientation and to help you make the most of your precious time. If our project succeeds, you will learn how to transform negative experiences into positive ones and how to capitalize on the positives in the present and the future without succumbing to blind devotion to either. Therein lies a second key paradox of time: Moderate attitudes toward the past, the present, and the future are indicative of health, while extreme attitudes are indicative of biases that lead predictably to unhealthy patterns of living. Our goal is to help you reclaim yesterday, enjoy today, and master tomorrow. To do so, we'll give you new ways of seeing and working with your past, present, and future.

Over three decades, we have given our questionnaires to more than ten thousand people. Colleagues of ours in more than fifteen countries around the world have used it with several more thousands. It's been rewarding to see individuals take this inventory and realize that they parcel their flow of personal experiences into mental categories or time zones. After we present the broad strokes of our discoveries in Part One, we'll get into how to use these perspectives for better health, more profitable investments, a more successful career and business, and more enjoyment of your personal relationships.

We hope that our discoveries will allow you to find better, different ways of living, freeing you from burdensome, outdated, or tired thoughts and actions to which your old perspective tied you. It's like the classic joke:

A guy from the city is walking down a country road past a farm when he sees a farmer feeding pigs in a highly unusual manner. The farmer is standing under an apple tree, holding up an enormous pig so that the pig can eat as many apples as it wants. The farmer moves the pig from one apple to another until the pig is satisfied, then the farmer starts again with another pig. The city man watches the farmer feed his pigs in this way for some time. Finally, he can't resist asking the farmer, "Excuse me. I can't help notice how hard it is for you to lift and carry and feed these pigs one by one at the apple tree. Wouldn't it save time if you just shook the tree and let the pigs eat what falls on the ground?" The farmer looks at the city guy with a puzzled expression and asks, "But what's time to a pig?"

What pigs are you carrying around that you need to let go of?

Before we get into our new psychology of time, we need to talk about the shared culture of time in which we live, and challenge some popular myths about time. Hopefully, you'll learn to see when you're looking the wrong way at time and when you can drop an old heavy pig of an attitude that simply doesn't serve you anymore.

TIME IS THE MEDIUM IN WHICH YOU LIVE

No man ever steps into the same river twice,

for it's not the same river and he's not the same man."

-- Heraclitus

If one of the Capuchin monks awoke from his perpetual slumber and joined us in the twenty-first century, he would not recognize much of the world around him. The world has changed, but our monk may be in a better position than we are to understand the profound impact that time has had on our world. Just as fish may be unaware of the existence of the water in which they swim, most of us are unaware of the ceaselessly flowing time in which we live. Time's power often hits us only after a momentous event, the death of a loved one, a near-death experience, or a massive tragedy such as 9/11. We usually use time almost automatically, to schedule our hours and our days and to mark important life events like births, birthdays, and deaths. Time is the water that moves our stream of consciousness, but despite its centrality in our lives, we seldom reflect upon the ways in which time draws boundaries and gives direction and depth to our lives. For many of us, the time in which we are immersed is murky rather than gin-clean, and it prevents us from seeing up- and downstream. We may not even be aware of time until the stream runs dry, as it did for the monks of Santa Maria della Concezione.

THE ECONOMICS OF TIME

Remember that time is money.

-- Benjamin Franklin

Time is our most valuable possession. In classical economics, the rarer a resource and the more uses to which it may be put, the greater its value. Gold, for example, has no intrinsic value. It is no more than yellow metal. However, veins of gold on earth are rare, and gold has many uses. People first used gold to make jewelry; more recent, it has become a conductor in electronic components. The relation between scarcity and value is well known, so gold's exorbitant price comes as no surprise.

Most things that can be possessed -- diamonds, gold, hundred-dollar bills -- can be replenished. New diamond and gold deposits are discovered, and new bills are printed. Such is not the case with time. Nothing that any of us does in this life will allow us to accrue a moment's more time, and nothing will allow us to regain time misspent. Once time has passed, it is gone forever. So, although Ben Franklin was right about many things, he was wrong when he said that time is money. Our scarcest resource, time, is actually much more valuable than money.

We recognize the value of time implicitly in our daily transactions. Typically, the cost of time connotes its value. For example, we are often willing to pay a high price to use other people's time. The higher the price the more valuable the time: a five-hundred-dollar-an-hour lawyer is assumed to be better than a two-hundred-dollar-an-hour lawyer; handmade (translation: slowly made) goods are...

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