How Time Impacts Our Decisions

I’ve heard casinos don’t have clocks. The industry works hard to get you to think only about the present and nothing about consequences for the future. It makes sense for the casino who wants you to lose money as long as possible.

Future vs. Present Thinking

Our perception of time affects our decision making today.

Consider eating, health, and weight. Thinking about the future by seeing ourselves more fit and at our weight goal can change how much and what we eat today. If we’re focused too much on the present, we eat however much we want of whatever junk food is around.

That’s why timing a grocery shopping trip is so important. Go while you’re hungry and your cart will be filled with “present foods,” most often quick, high calorie prepackaged foods (in attractive boxes) with far out expiration dates. Going after lunch puts you in a “future” thinking zone, more likely to make healthier choices, purchasing lower calorie and less expensive food that requires preparation.

Aging vs. Youth

As we age, our future becomes limited; we can see that the finite end to life is growing closer each day. Life becomes quality over quantity. We invest in our closest relationships over a wide circle of marginal connections. We begin to think about the most important things.

For younger people, the past is short and the future seems like an eternity. They have many more social connections, invest in all kinds of acquaintance-type relationships, and take social risks.

Pace of Life vs. Helpfulness

A study done in the world’s busiest and fastest cities discovered a direct correlation between the pace of life and helpfulness toward others. The more hurried people are, the less helpful they are to those around them.

Our relationship with time may be an indicator of how important we feel and how important we feel it is to care for others.

Bottom Line

How you spent your time yesterday has a major effect on today. And how you invest your time today will have a major effect on your future.

We must live in the present and understand how each day (and our daily choices) impact tomorrow.

These are a few ideas from a fascinating book I’ve been reading, The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd.

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