Improve Balanced Time Perspective with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“It is how we think about the future that determines whether the outcome is beneficial. You can think about what you want and how to make it happen, or you can think about what you don’t want and worry about how to prevent it from happening. The first way increases your chances of bringing positive emotions and experiences into your life, while the second causes you to experience negative emotions about things that may never happen; further, it decreases the amount of time and energy you have for creating positive experiences.” – Jannice Vilhauer
Mindfulness stresses present moment awareness, minimizing focus on past memories and
future planning. But, to effectively navigate the environment it is necessary to remember past experiences and project future consequences of behavior. So, there is a need to be balanced such that the amount of attention focused on the past, present, and future is balanced. This has been termed as balanced time perspective. It is possible that mindfulness helps balance time perspective or that it might even overly emphasize the present moment to the detriment of balance. The relationship of mindfulness to this balanced time perspective has not been previously investigated.
In today’s Research News article “Self-Compassion and Subjective Well-Being Mediate the Impact of Mindfulness on Balanced Time Perspective in Chinese College Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6395405/), Ge and colleagues recruited college students and measured them for mindfulness, self-compassion, subjective well-being, balanced time perspective, and time perspective including subscales measuring past negative, past positive, present fatalistic, present hedonistic, and future.
They found that mindfulness was positively related to balanced time perspective directly with the higher the levels of mindfulness the better the balance in time perspective. They also observed that mindfulness was positively related to balanced time perspective indirectly through self-compassion and subjective well-being such that high levels of mindfulness was associated with higher levels of self-compassion and subjective well-being which, in turn, were associated with higher balanced time perspective.
These results are interesting and for the first time demonstrate a positive relationship of mindfulness to balanced time perspective. Since a balanced time perspective may be seen as an adaptive mix of past, present, and future perspectives, it is possible that this is one of the reasons that mindfulness has such positive effects on mental health and well-being. So, mindfulness may be beneficial not just by increasing present moment awareness but also by producing appropriate allocation of attention to the past or the future where appropriate. It remains for future research to examine these possibilities.
So, improve balanced time perspective with mindfulness.
“while a mindfulness exercise that shifts attention to internal events extends one’s experience of time, a mindfulness exercise that shifts attention to an external event could potentially make time feel like it’s passing more quickly.” – Emily Nauman
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Ge, J., Wu, J., Li, K., & Zheng, Y. (2019). Self-Compassion and Subjective Well-Being Mediate the Impact of Mindfulness on Balanced Time Perspective in Chinese College Students. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 367. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00367
Balanced time perspective is associated with optimal social functioning and provides psychological benefits in times of stress. Previous studies have found that mindfulness is positively associated with balanced time perspective and might promote it. However, the mechanism through which mindfulness affects balanced time perspective remains unexplored. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the mediating role of self-compassion and subjective well-being in the relationship between mindfulness and balanced time perspective. A total of 754 Chinese college students, aged 17–27 years, completed the Chinese versions of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, Self-Compassion Scale, Subjective Well-Being Scale, and Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory. There were significant positive correlations between mindfulness, self-compassion, subjective well-being, and balanced time perspective. Structural equation modeling indicated that in addition to the direct influence of mindfulness on balanced time perspective, self-compassion and subjective well-being played a partial mediating role. On the basis of these findings, we conclude that mindfulness has an important positive influence on balanced time perspective, and highlights the crucial role of the self-compassion in cultivating a balanced time perspective. Limitations of the present study are also discussed.