Personal Note

Last Sunday I spent a delightful afternoon with some of the women from Wired4Life, Dawn Huberly’s organization for women with pacemakers. These women, representing all age groups, have bonded, thanks to Dawn. More importantly, they have learned to live in and truly enjoy the present.
Much of my work consists in trying to help people live fully in a supportive present, bolstered by pleasant past memories, and buoyed by inspiring thoughts about the future. So I was pleased to find another example to bring to my readers that I hope will lead you to that happy state.

Time Zones

The wellness expert I was speaking to after her talk commented that she had almost been late for the conference. “I was stuck in traffic,” she lamented, “and I was really stressed.”
I asked her what she was worried about, given that the audience was a group of very supportive women who already knew and liked her. What would they have done had she been late?
She didn’t know, but insisted it was a stressful experience. Why? There would have been no dire consequences; someone else might have spoken first, or everyone would have continued to network and socialize until she appeared.
She had failed to seize that little interlude to experience what I call an “Island of Peace,” a place and time where you can just breathe and center yourself, free from distractions, knowing that there is nothing you can do about the current situation, which will adjust itself when it is darned good and ready.
In the meantime, she had placed undue stress on her body, the very topic on which she was about to deliver a talk.
In  The Time Paradox, Doctors Philip Zimbardo and Jim Boyd explore the psychology of time and how it shapes our thoughts, feelings, actions, and ultimately our destinies. They describe the different mental time zones through which we move: The Present, Future, Negative Past, and Nostalgic Past.
Zimbardo and Boyd explain that it is sometimes appropriate to be mentally in the future, for example when you are planning and setting goals. And while the Negative Past can solidify beliefs about the barriers that have held us back, and continue to do so, the Nostalgic Past can be a support in the present, when pleasant memories can evoke feelings of well-being and high self-esteem to sustain us during difficult times.
The agitated speaker could have reflected on the group of women with whom she was about to meet, and the friendliness and support they had shown her in the past. Instead, she leaped into anxiety about the future – a future in which she was imagining criticism and rejection that was unlikely to occur. Remember, 10% of stress is due to what happens to us; the other 90% is due to what we think about what is happening.
This tendency to dwell too much in the future time zone seems to be a national disease in the United States, forcing us to feel rushed all the time.
What if you could draw on the Nostalgic Past for support, dive into the Future to inspire yourself, and savor the present – all at will? That’s great stress management, and it’s not impossible to achieve. It is said that balancing your mental time zones feels like being on a prolonged vacation.
Want to find out if you have achieved a healthy balance of mental time zones?
Go to http://www.thetimeparadox.com/surveys/ to take their interesting survey.