Be present.

Exist in the now.

You only live once.

When it comes to time orientation, present-oriented cultures view the current moment in time as the only moment that matters.

Psychology Professor Philip Zimbardo spoke of individual time orientation, saying:

“There are two ways to be present-oriented, the most obvious is to be hedonistic, that you live for pleasure and you avoid pain. You seek knowledge, you seek sensation. There are other people who are present-oriented because they say, ‘It doesn’t pay to plan. My life is fated – fated by my religion, my poverty, the conditions that I’m living under.’”

While personal present-oriented values may not be exactly the same as those who are culturally present-oriented, the belief in fate does play into the perspective of time in many cultures.

Unlike past-oriented cultures, present time orientation results in a short-term thinking style with little focus on the future or the past.

Let’s dive in to the present.

Present-Oriented Values

Present-oriented cultures view the past as a closed book.

It is done, it is finished, it is something that cannot be changed.

Similarly, they view the future as something that has yet to be written, and they don’t have the power or tools to write it.

The past is gone, and the future is uncertain.

The only timeline that truly matters – and to which they have any influence – is the present.

Thus, the focus is on today, for tomorrow may not arrive.

They look to ways in which they can influence the present moment or changes they can make to yield short-term, immediate results.

You might find present-oriented cultures in Latin America and Africa. 

France, too, is said to have a more present-oriented culture, compared to the UK (past) and the US (future).

The Present is a Gift

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

Because their lives are not grounded in the future or the past, present-oriented cultures view the present as a gift.

They live life for today, not tomorrow.

Next week, we’ll talk about how this differs from future-oriented cultures.

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