Balancing Time + Positive Psychology

Balancing Time  Positive Psychology

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been told that you’re “living in the past,” or perhaps someone has said “that Sally always has her heads in the clouds, daydreaming about the future”? If so you may have been in a period of your life where you had poor temporal time balance.

Tempura fried shrimp, what?

Temporal time is a fancy way of saying categories of time like past, present, and future. (Honestly they could have just said that, if you ask me.)

And researchers have done a lot of thinking about these constructs and their impact on psychology, on our mental and emotional well-being. If you think back to the first time we introduced Positive Psychology, we talked about how the heart of it is the question of: what makes life worth living? What is a good life?

Through their research, these folks have learned that a healthy temporal time balance is one of those things that makes up a good life. That means that when we spend an even amount of time living in the past, present, and future, we have better well-being.

But when we’re unbalanced, when we spend more time in one temporal time period than the rest, things get a little wonky. Think back to a time when your mind spent most of its time reminiscing, on the good or the bad. How did you wellness feel at that time? Perhaps you were less satisfied with your current situation, or remembering past trauma was having a real life impact on your present day physical and emotional wellness. Or perhaps it made it more difficult to plan for the future—maybe the future felt inaccessible. On the flip side, if you spend your life daydreaming about tomorrow, a year from now, “someday,” what are you missing in the present? Are you honoring what you have been through?

Our natural orientation towards this concept is influenced by so many things, like culture, education, religion, social class, or family of origin, and will likely ebb and flow throughout our lives. When we’re in balance, we are flexible and able to switch between these temporal time periods with ease. Basically, we don’t get too “stuck.”