The Differences Between Being Past, Present, and Future-Oriented According to Philip Zimbardo


Future oriented
In a talk he gave a few years ago, renowned psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo explains how our individual perspectives of time affect our work, health and well-being. We have different relationships with time, says Zimbardo:

what we have discovered in 30 years of research there are six main time ones that people live in; two focused on the past; two on the present and two on the future.

The people who focus on the past either remember all the good old times, successes, happy birthdays, nostalgia, these are the people who keep the family records, the family books, who preserve the family rituals. There are other people who focus only on regret, only on failure, only on all the things that went wrong. So we call those focus past positive, or past negative.

There are two ways to be present oriented, the most obvious is to be hedonistic, that you live for pleasure and you avoid pain. You seek knowledge, you seek sensation. There are other people who are present oriented because they say, “It doesn’t pay to plan. My life is fated – fated by my religion, my poverty, the conditions that I’m living under.”

Most of us are here because we are future oriented, that we have learnt to work rather than play, to resist temptation. But there’s another way to be future oriented, depending on your religion life begins after the death of the mortal body. To be future oriented you have to trust that when you make a decision about the future it’s going to be carried out. If you have great inflation you don’t put money in the bank because you can’t trust the future. If you have instability in your family adults can’t keep their promises to you.

In A Geography Of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, Robert Levine illustrates the symbiotic relationship between person and people and place or places in which they live. Specifically, he shows how people have different rhythms in locations around the world.

Through experiments, Levine looks at time perspective, at how people divide their own experience into partitions, time zones. On the speed of life, or tempo Levine asks the question, “what characteristics of places and cultures make them faster or slower?” The two elements for consideration are “economic well-being” and “degree of industrialization.”

Our treatment of time depends on culture, perception, and state of mind. With that in mind, Zimbardo did:

a recent study with USA Today asking Americans how busy they are. The vast majority of Americans, more than 50% said, “I’m busier now than I was last year. I was busier last year than the previous year and I sacrificed friends, family and sleep for my success.” This is across the board, not separating by future orientation.

And then we said, “Suppose you had an eight day week what would you do?” They say, “Oh that would be great.” They would spend most of that time working harder, achieving more, not with friends, not with family and not even sleeping.

Reorienting how we think about what happens to us is helpful. He says:

many of life’s puzzles can be solved by simply understanding our own time perspective and that of others. Lots of conflict we have with people is really a conflict in the different time perspectives.

Once you’re aware of that you stop making negative attributions like, you’re dumb or you’re childish or you’re pig-headed or you’re authoritarian. It’s really the most simple idea in the world.

Watch the video of the talk below.

Conversation Agent – Valeria Maltoni


HelloInterview: Meet Philip Nixon – Garden Designer in England and Pinterest Influencer!


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Philip Nixon is a professional garden designer from rural England, just outside of London. He was born and raised in Ireland. Philip works from home but has a “great team of people in [his] office in London.” Some of his most recent garden design work has been as far as New York and Moscow.

“I feel really lucky to be running my own business and doing something that I love.”

When he’s not designing beautiful gardens or on Pinterest, Philip can be found lecturing and teaching, and spending time with his loved ones. Philip’s passion for gardening has earned him over 722K Pinterest followers.

When did you start using Pinterest and what inspired you to make an account?

I stumbled on Pinterest in the very early days when it was really new. I must have been one of the very first users.

Philip and his daughter youngest daughter Emilie

Why do you like Pinterest?

I use images a lot in my design work and Pinterest just seemed like a great way to build up and keep an image library of what was happening in the design world. Then it became addictive so I started using to it look at all sorts of things that interested me or inspired me. I am not a good self-editor so I have too many boards and too many ideas to keep up with myself.

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Philip’s garden at home

You have gained over 722K followers! That’s very cool! What makes your Pinterest unique?

I honestly have no idea. I just pin what interests me and it seems to interest other people too. Maybe that’s the key. My Pinterest is honest and made up as it goes along… it has a life of its own.

Are you from London originally? What do you like about it there?

I grew up in Dublin, Ireland and moved to London in my late teens. London is a great city. I have travelled a lot over the years but London is still my favourite city. The people are great. Culturally it is so diverse and everybody gets on with each other.

What are your favorite places you’ve traveled to? When did you go?

I have been to New York so many times I have lost count and after London, it’s my favourite city. I love city life and London and New York are quite similar. London and New York City have a similar vibe to them.

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Philip’s Pinterest has a variety of boards with 139

What are your favorite Pinterest boards to pin onto and why?

It changes all of the time. There are some boards I used to pin to all the time and now I don’t at all since I’ve moved on. My current slightly bizarre fascination is with the colour blue! I have no idea why. I now have a board devoted to all things blue.

Your Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air board is really beautiful! We also adore your Garden board. Tell us more about these boards and why you made them.

The “Live in the sunshine…” board is because I do live for sunshine and I grew up by the sea so it’s very important to me. I don’t cope well with rainy days so that board just reminds me that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that summer is coming. The garden board is there because that’s what I do and it’s what I am. I am a gardener! I love gardens and the act of planting and caring for plants. I could not be without it.

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A garden Philip designed for a client in London.

What is your Pinterest style?

I am fascinated by how things are designed and made whether that be a garden or a camera, a boat or a skateboard, a painting or a motorbike. If I like the way something looks, if it inspires me and makes me feel good, then that ends up being what drives the style of the boards.

Tell us more about your passion for the beach and any hobbies you’re passionate about.

I love being outside and being by the sea is what I like best. I love to cycle and I love to travel, ideally avoiding planes and all that goes with it. So my dream has always been to get in a car and drive, get on a bike and ride, or get on a boat and sail away. I seem to have a fascination with things that facilitate travel: cars, bikes, boats, and so on.

What are your plans and hopes for the future?

I hope to travel more, cycle more, walk more, buy a sailing boat, draw, write, and create and keep on doing it.

Connect with Philip!

PinterestPhilip Nixon Design

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Philip ‘on holiday’ in France

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