Somehow, Philip Zimbardo, one of America's most influential psychologists, with a professor emeritus gig at Stanford and more than 50 books to his credit, found time to sort through 36 years of research about, well, time. He observed that we tend to fixate on either the past (nostalgics), the present (hedonists), or the future (goal-oriented workaholics like you). In his latest, The Time Paradox (Simon & Schuster), Zimbardo makes the case for shifting the focus. A few suggestions:
IF HAPPINESS IS ALWAYS IN THE FUTURE, THEN YOU'LL NEVER BE HAPPY. By always looking to the next goal, you don't appreciate the present, says Zimbardo. And humans are just not good at predicting what will float our boats: We can work for a decade to reach Director and not realize until we get there that we had it wrong. The good news is that we're also bad at predicting our unhappiness, so even if you've been busting ass to keep your job, odds are getting fired won't make you as miserable as you thought it would.
DON'T GET CAUGHT IN THE DATING TIME WARP. New love makes us "present-oriented imbeciles deaf to the language of the future," says Zimbardo. (Hello, staying up till 3 talking on a school night.) Have fun with your new BF, but keep in mind that 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. Americans are taught to value hard work over pleasure. "Time spent working is considered productive, while time spent being happy is considered wasted," says Zimbardo. But it's a nonrenewable resource. Keep happiness from falling "to 10th place on the to-do list behind picking up the dry-cleaning," he says, by carving out an hour each day to do exactly what you want to do. And don't bail on that date with yourself.
TIME BY THE NUMBERS:
- 7: Billions of hits retrieved by a Yahoo search for time, the most popular noun in English.
- 16: Average hours per workweek Americans describe as "unproductive."
- 266: Minutes a day Americans spend watching TV, our biggest leisure pursuit.
The Cannes Film Festival 2022: The Best Red Carpet Looks
Here's what everyone wore for the festival's 75th year.
By Sara Holzman
The 30 Best Black TV Shows Ever
Clear your schedule. You have some binge-watching to do
By The Editors
Take a Tour of Ali Wentworth's Personal Library
The author and actress shares her favorite reads in 'Shelf Portrait.'
By Neha Prakash
This Mutual Fund Firm Is Helping to Create a More Sustainable Future
Amy Domini and her firm, Domini Impact Investments LLC, are inspiring a greater and greener world—one investor at a time.
Power Players Build on Success
"The New Normal" left some brands stronger than ever. We asked then what lies ahead.
By Maria Ricapito
Don't Stress! You Can Get in Good Shape Money-wise
Yes, maybe you eat paleo and have mastered crow pose, but do you practice financial wellness?
By Sallie Krawcheck
The Book Club Revolution
Lots of women are voracious readers. Other women are capitalizing on that.
By Lily Herman
The Future of Women and Work
The pandemic has completely upended how we do our jobs. This is Marie Claire's guide to navigating your career in a COVID-19 world.
By Megan DiTrolio
Black-Owned Coworking Spaces Are Providing a Safe Haven for POC
For people of color, many of whom prefer to WFH, inclusive coworking spaces don't just offer a place to work—they cultivate community.
By Megan DiTrolio
Where Did All My Work Friends Go?
The pandemic has forced our work friendships to evolve. Will they ever be the same?
By Rachel Epstein
Your (Not So Official) Guide to Returning to the Office
Allow us to help you you figure out work attire, meetings, and how to get through a conversation with that guy from marketing without letting on that you forgot his name (I want to say it’s...“Rod”? “Rob?” “Rorb?” It’ll come to me eventually.)
By Gabrielle Moss