42 brilliant positive psychology
If you would like to test your own time perspective profile,
you can do so online with the Zimbardo Time Perspective
Note The emphasis on being past positive mirrors Ryffs
findings on healthy self-acceptance, which is also dependent
on a positive attitude to the past.
If you don’t have a positive feeling towards the past, it might be
for a good reason. For now, just notice that this is what you think
and that having this thought may be affecting how you enjoy
life in the present. There will be plenty of opportunity in later
chapters to find ways to accommodate and find meaning and
benefit in all experiences. For now, don’t feel any pressure to
do more than just notice.
What is your predominant time perspective?
How might this be affecting your happiness and enjoyment
of life?
A flexible and balanced time perspective starts with noticing
your relationship to time and how you use it.
Happiness and choice
Our happiness is greatly affected by how much choice we have
and the manner in which we choose. This is not the same as the
underlying needs and motivations that govern all our actions and
behaviours that we touched on in the last chapter; choice in this
context is much more about the practical way we choose.
Too much choice is not good for us!
In a series of studies, people who were given the chance to sample
jams and chocolate were more likely to buy when they had only six
to sample than when they had to choose from 24 or 30.
Happiness and psychological well-being 43
According to the psychologist Barry Schwartz there are two
types of choosers: maximisers and satisfiers.
The agony of maximising choice
If you are a maximiser, you will spend hours assessing and com-
paring all options, trying to find the right choice that maximises all
scenarios. If you are choosing shoes, for instance, you will try on
every pair of the style you want in your price range before making
your purchase on the grounds of value for money, comfort, fashion
and utility. You will probably make a very well-informed decision
but you are also less likely to be completely satisfied.
What is it like to live as a maximiser with the amount of choice
we have around us today? Shoes or a healthy yogurt are simple
commodities to choose compared with where you live, what car
you drive, what career you choose, what insurance you need,
where you want to go on holiday, what school you send your
children to or who you spend your life with. Looking at all the
options is not only exhausting and time consuming but if, after
investing all the time and effort, you make a wrong decision,
regret and self-reproach can be a further burden to bear.
The joy of being satisfied
If on the other hand you are a satisfier, choosing is a more
functional action, decision making reflects current needs, and
options help to meet the minimum requirement. Satisfiers may
Changing your mind doesn’t make you happy
After being asked to choose only one of two meaningful photographs
as a keepsake of their time at university, the group of students who
had a minute to choose and were not allowed to change their minds
were happier with their choice a year later than those who had been
given a three-month delay before making their final choice.

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