The Powers of Time

I really enjoyed Professor Philip Zimbardo’s presentation, “The Secret Powers of Time”. (Animated Overview or Full Lecture)

Gave me additional food for thought (as if I didn’t have enough already…) and sent me into analyzing my own perceptions of Time.


He postulates there are 6 time zone folks choose to live in, as follows:

  • Past Orientated (2 options)
    • Positive – Tradition, memory of the ‘good old days’
    • Negative – Regret and focus on failures
  • Present Orientated (2 options)
    • Hedonist – Seek pleasure, avoid pain
    • It Doesn’t Pay to Plan – My life is fated – by my religion, my poverty, the conditions I’m living under
  • Future Orientated (2 options)
    • Trust in the Future – Work now rather than play, resist temptation today for greater rewards tomorrow
    • Afterlife – Believe life begins after the death of the mortal body.


Just as I have, at one time or another, been all the mice in “Who Ate My Cheese?“, I realize I’ve spent considerable Time in each Zone.

I’m  really aware of how my time perception greatly clouds my memories of past events, distorts possible futures and aids or interferes with my enjoyment of Now.


I finally confided my secret regret and guilt to another – I don’t know exactly what I was hoping to accomplish by this baring of the soul, but I did do it.

I confessed my remorse over the knowledge that while my son lay in a coma, dying from bacterial meningitis, I spent most of my time in the smoker’s area outside.

Imagine my surprise when my friend, who stayed by my side during the entire ordeal, said,

“Really?  I don’t think so.   I remember wanting to have a smoke and instead, waited for you.   It seemed like forever!”

In repeating this conversation to my mom, who is a non-smoker, she also cried foul, stating that she didn’t share my memory of reality either.

I can always count on friends and my mommy to make me feel better.

Seems my internal knowledge of knowing how hard it was to face the pain of losing my son had colored my memory of how hedonistic I really was those two days.


I’ve been very intrigued by the experiments done regarding focused intention and changing history.   (The Field, by Lynne McTaggart). Quite simply because I wish I could change my recent past.  I really want to believe that focused meditation can prevent me waking up tomorrow with the knowledge Morgan is gone.


According to physicists, Time and Space make the fabric of our Universe.  Both  can be warped, shaped and otherwise manipulated.  They recommend being a Present Orientated Hedonist that seeks Knowledge.

According to peace gurus, there is nothing but Now, and in my desire to eagerly reach out for the next moment (Future Orientated), hoping it gratifies me more than the one I have presently, I sacrifice any hopes of internal peace.  I’m to find pleasure in this moment (Present Hedonist)

According to nutritionists, my best bet is to be Future Orientated, resisting cigs and Pepsi today for assurances of a healthy tomorrow.

My fellow Freedom Loving Enthusiasts would also like me to be Future Orientated, so through my voting and purchase choices, I can prevent the total destruction of the world as we know it.

The Moral Majority would like for me to be Positive Past focused, to remember the ‘golden age’ and return to tradition and family values.  At the same time, they would like me to be Future Orientated in regards to my immortal soul.  In short, they are asking me to live in 2 different time zones.


As I ponder this perspective on Time this morning, I realize why I’m so often confused and dismayed….

In examining ideals, both my own and those of society, I realize that ‘solutions’ often ask us to live in a variety of Time zones at once.  Which results in ‘much arguing with ourselves and each other’.


On the flip side, I think I just proved that Time Travel takes place now, not in some techno future.

Update! I took the Zimbardo Time Perspective Survey and discovered I AM a Time Traveler – here’s the dispersion rate of my Time Perspective between the 6 Zones:

Past-negative 3.50
Past-positive 3.67
Present-hedonistic 3.60
Present-fatalistic 3.89
Future 3.15

I’m almost evenly split between all zones…no wonder nothing ever gets done at my house, I don’t even know where I’m at….

7 thoughts on “The Powers of Time”

  1. First of all, I didn’t know about your son.

    Having been a ‘making memories for my old age’ type of woman in my 30s, I find now that there is a truth about memories; if no one else remembers it, it never happened…

    I took that survey, clicked submit and the next screen had the survey, empty waiting for me to answer again. I take that to mean that it doesn’t matter.


    1. LOL! I’ve been exploring both the metaphysical and quantum-physics views of Time the past few years. Plus, I’m always on the look-out for a good excuse for my idiosyncrasies.


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