Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Is the key to happiness a balanced time perspective?

Some people regularly look back to the good old days whereas others can’t wait to see what’s around the corner and some just focus on the here and now.

According to researchers at San Francisco State University however, the happiest people are those with a balanced time perspective. That is to say, individuals who live in the present, look fondly towards the past, and anticipate the future, are more satisfied with their lives.

The findings of this study, reported in the Journal of Happiness Studies, reveal that relying too heavily on any one time dimension can make it difficult for us to move forward, can limit our cognitive flexibility in certain situations and also lead to destructive behaviours. For instance, a very hedonistic, live in the moment attitude could lead us to over-indulge or live to excess.

Living in the past may keep us from enjoying the present; living too much in the present may stop us from achieving future goals; but at the same time, looking to the future too much may lead us to miss out on what’s going on in the present moment. So it would seem that a balance needs to be struck in order to maximise well-being.

The benefits of this balanced time perspective have been extended to the area of consumer choice. Researchers have applied the idea of how having a balance of the past, present and future can help individuals make better consumer decisions and have also investigated how purchasing habits and values relate to happiness.

First Psychology Scotland has centres in the following locations: 

Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440, www.edinburghtherapy.co.uk
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411, www.glasgowpsychology.co.uk
Borders: 01896-800-400, www.borderspsychology.co.uk
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848, www.aberdeenpsychology.co.uk opening soon!

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