The Secret Powers of Time

By RSA Animate

The folks at You+Dallas really like anything by RSA Animate, and The Secret Powers of Time is no exception.  Professor Philip Zimbardo, an American psychologist and professor at Stanford University, illustrates how our individual perspective of time can affect us in profound ways in the short film, The Secret Powers of Time. Essentially, we can choose to think in past-oriented, presented-oriented or future-oriented ways. Past-oriented thinkers choose to focus either on memories, family history and ritual or on regret and failure. Present-oriented thinkers choose to live hedonistically, in the moment or without plan because life is all up to fate. Most people tend to be future-oriented, believing in choosing work over play and resisting temptation. The purpose of schools, in Zimbardo’s opinion, is to take present-oriented “little beasts” and make them more future-oriented. These time perspectives are important to know and understand because they can be the cause of conflict, but can also lead to understanding. Listening to Zimbardo’s ideas on “the pace of life” inspires images of traveling abroad and adjusting to other cultures. “Siestas” in Spain and “tea-time” in England all serve to slow down the day and allow time for friends and family or meditation. These countries most likely have a low pace of life, while cities like New York have a very high pace of life. At some point, we all think in relation to the past, present or future, which is good. It’s a wonderful thing to both remember the positives of the past and learn from mistakes while still looking ahead to improving your future. It’s good to appreciate the present moment while still planning ahead. By understanding time perspectives and paces of life, perhaps we can find a balance and solve many of life’s little puzzles. According to Zimbardo, “it’s really the most simple thing in the world.”

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