The Time Paradox

Living

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I love to read magazines.

Though I like to read books, blogs, websites — magazines are far and away my favorite.

(I never really liked the newspaper until they came online – I don’t like the way you have to hold it in order to read it, and I hate that stories continue into new sections.)

I look forward to the new Real Simple as soon as I finish the current issue and there’s something soothing about the glossy cover of Martha Stewart Living. I’d read Family Circle or Woman’s Day over Vogue or Elle any day.

Ms. Sisson, my 10th grade English teacher used to tell us to keep our essays short. “I’d much rather read a short, bad paper than a long, bad paper,” she’d warn, encouraging us to condense our writing further and further.

Magazines, to me, are the short essay.

Sometimes they’re great, sometimes they have no point, but reading them is usually entertaining and if unsatisfying, well then, I only spent four dollars as opposed to fourteen.

Luckily, I work for a large PR firm that subscribes to just about every magazine under the sun – perfect to transport home to read on the train, and to read what I don’t finish on the way in the next morning.

Recently, my train ride home read was the July issue of Marie Claire and I found one article so interesting, I actually tore it out to blog about because the article was titled, “Right on Time.”

I’m one of those people who’s always 3-5 minutes late somewhere, but the whole time I’m obsessing over whether or not I’m going to be on time and what the worst possible consequences of my tardiness could actually be.

Well, in the July Marie Claire, Sarah Z. Wexler interviewed Dr. Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist, Stanford professor and the author of a book titled The Time Paradox.

Dr. Zimbardo notices that we tend to fixate on the past or the future rather than the present.

I am someone who is often at work thinking about what time I’ll go to the gym, and once I’m at the gym planning what I’m going to do when I get home, but when I get home all I’m thinking about what I’ll wear the next day….and so on.

Basically, I need to get to Barnes & Noble and read this book STAT.

Dr. Zimbardo would probably label me a “goal oriented workaholic” as he does some in the article. He offers a few suggestions for how to shift your focus to the present.

Some of my favorite statements include:

  • If happiness is always in the future, then you’ll never be happy.
  • Don’t get caught up in the dating time-warp. Direct quote: “Have fun with your new BF, but keep in mind if you don’t sort out what tense he lives in, at some point you may be wondering where your 2.5 kids are while he’s thinking about tying one on that night.”
  • The best thing you can do with your time is enjoy it.

We all value time in some way.

Free time, bed time, dinner time, time out…I could go on.

And vacation time, who doesn’t enjoy that?

We all know “time is precious” and “time flies” but when it comes down to it, what is time?

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