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There are 6 main time zones people live in. Two focused on the past, two on the present and two on the future. People focused on the past remember the good times. These are people who keep family records and photos etc. Others focus only on regret and failure. Those two are called past positive and past negative.


RSA ANIMATE: The Secret Powers of Time


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In the present we have hedonism, where people preserve pleasure to avoid pain. Most people are future oriented. We have learned to work instead of having fun, resisting temptation. In order to be future oriented, you have to trust that when you decide something it will happen eventually. If there is great inflation, you don’t put money in the bank because you can’t trust the future. If your family is unstable adults can’t keep their promises to them.

The nearer you are to the equator the more present orientated you are. The more you are in an environment the more you are not used to change. This is where climate doesn’t change.


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In different cultures people have a different pace of life. This can be measured by seeing how fast they walk. How long it takes to post something etc. The pace of life in cities can also be measured in this way. In America, he ranks 60 cities. In the ones with the highest pace of life people have the most heart problems.

Everyone starts off as a present hedonist. The speaker’s feeling is that it is a school’s job to make people more future oriented or more past oriented. In the USA, a child drops out of school every 9 seconds. There is a worse statistic for people from minorities and worse for boys than girls.


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This is a recipe for disaster amongst American boys. It’s not just poor performance. A recent study shows that by the time a boy is 21 he has spent 10,000 hours playing video games alone. This means they haven’t learned social skills. They live in a world that they create; the games are exciting. The boys’ brains are being digitally rewired. So, they will never fit into a traditional classroom which is analogue. You have no control. People are talking to you and kids must now be in an education system in which they are controlling something. School is passive and concerned with teaching delay of gratification.

All addictions are addictions of present hedonism. Food, sex, drugs, gambling etc. All of education is designed for future oriented kids who are not the problem. Present oriented kids know the consequences,but they do not filter back to change their behavior. Which is the power of time perspective.


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We are underestimating the power of technology to change young people’s brains. Kids don’t wear watches. This is a single function device and as such, a waste of time. Seconds are what matter. Most Americans are annoyed by how long it takes to start your computer or download something. More than a minute makes people angry. Waiting is a waste of time.

There is a fundamental change in our culture. Kids are different due to this revolution in time. People always say they are busier than they were before. They sacrifice friends, family, and sleep for success. If they had an extra day in the week they would spend it working more. 20 years ago, 60% of families ate together. Now 20% of them do it (Americans). This goes against family values. Conflicts can often be resolved by understanding time perspectives.


The following article is derived from the accompanying video with Professor Philip Zimbardo. It is provided as an additional resource for your reading convenience.


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