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.
Time is our most valuable possession: we are obsessed with schedules and multitasking to save time, say the authors of this insightful study of the importance of time in our lives. Yet people spend time less wisely than money. Zimbardo (The Lucifer Effect), professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford, and Boyd, research director for Yahoo!, draw on their two decades of research to explain why people devalue time. They blend scientific results into a straightforward narrative exploring various past-, present- and future-oriented ways of perceiving time and argue against becoming imprisoned or obsessed by any one of these. Zimbardo and Boyd have cogent insight into all of time's elements and show how they can be used for success, better health and greater fulfillment. For instance, understanding the role of time in investment can lead to wiser financial decisions, and a relationship will not work if one partner is focused on today's pleasure while the other wants to plan for the future. This is a compelling and practical primer (filled with quizzes and tests) on making every moment count. (Aug. 5)
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August 03, 2008
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Excerpt from The Time Paradox by John Boyd
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