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The Time Paradox

The New Psychology of Time that will Change Your Life

By Philip Zimbardo & John Boyd
15-minute read
Audio available
The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time that will Change Your Life by Philip Zimbardo & John Boyd

Time matters. Most of us are slaves to time, whether we’re planning, multitasking, postponing or making to-do lists. But it’s our attitude toward the concept of time that really affects who we are and how we live. The Time Paradox (2009) shows you how you can start to think of time in a way that helps you to lead a better, happier and more fulfilled life.

  • Anyone looking to recover from painful memories
  • Psychologists or students of psychology
  • Anyone curious about how humans perceive time

The head of the notorious Stanford prison experiment in 1971, Philip Zimbardo is a distinguished figure in modern psychology. Formerly the president of the American Psychological Association and a Stanford University professor for nearly four decades, Zimbardo has published over 50 books, including The Lucifer Effect and The Time Cure.

In addition to his psychology doctorate from Stanford University where he studied with Zimbardo, John Boyd holds a degree in economics and works as a research manager at Google.

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The Time Paradox

The New Psychology of Time that will Change Your Life

By Philip Zimbardo & John Boyd
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time that will Change Your Life by Philip Zimbardo & John Boyd
Synopsis

Time matters. Most of us are slaves to time, whether we’re planning, multitasking, postponing or making to-do lists. But it’s our attitude toward the concept of time that really affects who we are and how we live. The Time Paradox (2009) shows you how you can start to think of time in a way that helps you to lead a better, happier and more fulfilled life.

Key idea 1 of 9

My time is not the same as your time; how we perceive time explains how we live and who we are.

Time is an abstract concept; and as we can’t touch, see or smell it, it’s often extremely hard to understand. This is just one reason why our perception of time has changed – well, throughout time.

Our prehistoric ancestors, for instance, lived in the “now.” Being focused on the present helped them escape immediate threats, and thus avoid death. They didn’t even have the vocabulary to talk about the future, so everything was about the present.

Later, people began to recognize the change of seasons and solar and lunar cycles, which helped further the development of agriculture. Slowly, our ancestors started thinking and talking about the future.

Today, however, we’re obsessed with time. Our lives are built around school semesters, financial quarters and 24-hour news. The word “time” is one of the most used in the English language.

Yet time is still a subjective concept. But how exactly does each person experience time differently?

There are two main ways we perceive time. First, there’s time as it is tracked on a clock. When we observe the passage of time as the ticking of a clock, for example, it feels like it exists outside of us and thus we treat it objectively.

Second, there’s psychological time, which describes how we subjectively perceive the passage of time. Are you more concerned with the past or future? Do you see this positively or negatively?

Because of these different perceptions, we each have different time perspectives. A time perspective is how you think of time, and how your attitude affects how you live your life.

There are six different time perspectives. Past-positive and past-negative perspectives relate to the positive and negative ways of perceiving past events.

Present-hedonist means you live for the moment, experiencing as much pleasure as possible; present-fatalist means you’re anxious and sad, as you feel fate has already decided your hand.

Finally, future-orientation involves planning ahead, while a transcendental attitude means you believe that life extends beyond death.

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