What Is Time Perspective?

by | Aug 22, 2022

What is Time Perspective?


Time perspective refers to the relative focus we place on the past, present, and future time frames (TP; Zimbardo and Boyd 1999). The perception of time is an important aspect of young children’s daily lives and is influenced by a range of elements. The complex process of how we perceive time involves several cognitive systems or processes including attention, an internal clock system, and memory processes. Children start to experience the shift of time as early as 4 months of age (). By the age of 3 years old, they have similar time perception properties to human adults and animals. As they mature, age-related effects children’s sensitivity increases and between the ages of 8 and 10 years old, their perception of time becomes similar to that of adults (Qu and Zhang, 2021).

So, why is it important to understand how your child perceives time throughout their development? Below are just a few benefits that adults experience as a result of having a balanced time perspective. Why not start cultivating this important skill in childhood to give them a head start?

Benefits of Balanced Time Perspective:

  • Higher levels of subjective wellbeing
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased life satisfaction
  • Higher levels of optimism

Our view of time is a relatively stable, just like other important personality traits like happiness. Each of us tend to focus on the past, present, or the future. With each of these dimensions of time we also have make a positive or negative judgment. What we do not realize is that our sense of time also known as time perspective, plays a key role in every thought and decision we make. If we are not careful about how we perceive time we can get trapped. Yet, by identifying your time perspective, you can begin to develop a more balanced approach. You can then become free to make positive use of the past, savor your time in the present, and move into in the future in a positive way. Developing an understanding of time perspective in youth will undoubtedly make a positive impact them now and throughout adulthood.

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life. (Eckhart Tolle)

Mindfulness and Time Perspective

Both art-making and yoga (and other creative movement) help us develop an experiential understanding of time perspective because both activities encourage us to be in our present moment experiences and to notice the sensations we are experiencing.

Yoga Poses To Explore Present Time Perspective 

When practicing yoga, we become aware of the moment and become less concerned with chronological time. One remains attentive to the moment and does not allow one’s attention to slip into the movement of moments. We remain undisturbed, and with the loss of the time factor, one’s consciousness, too, loses its significance. Then, one catches sight of the soul. The power of breath helps bring our awareness into the present moment, into this exact time. Through yoga, we take our attention off the past or present. When stress, anxiety, or anxiousness arises within the body, it means we are living in the past or present – and not in the present moment. We are out of alignment. When we practice Yoga, we can feel our bodies in the present moment, watch our thoughts more closely, and practice the art of living in the Now.

Deep Breathing Techniques/Pranayama

  • Helps to get rid of stale air in the body
  • By taking deep breaths, your heart rate slows, more oxygen enters your bloodstream and communicates with your brain to relax
  • Brings awareness to the present moment


  • Improves posture and balance, stretches the neck and spine, and massages and stimulates organs in the belly
  • Helps create an emotional balance

Thread the Needle

  •  Releases tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back, increases spinal mobility.
  • Subconsciously trains the body to breathe slowly, no matter what is happening in our outer environment

Mountain Pose

  • Assists us in feeling more grounded and rooted in the earth
  • Helps bring focus and attention into the present moment
  • Improves mental awareness and energy

Warrior 2 Pose

  • Gazing over your fingers in this pose brings your awareness and point of focus to one spot – known as your Drishti
  • Your Drishti is a focused gaze that develops concentration intentions and takes you out of the past/present and into the Now

Eagle Pose

  • This pose requires strength, concentration, and focus on the body
  • Opens hips and IT band, increases circulation, improves digestion
  • This pose balances the chakras, which can heighten your focus, present awareness, and deeper your sense of self

Corpse Pose

  • Calms the central nervous system and the mind
  • Brings your awareness to the present moment, reduces headaches and fatigue, promotes spiritual awakening and awareness of higher consciousness
  • Deepens your sense of self

Using Meditative Drawing Methods to Explore Time 

  • Attempt to silence your mind as you reflect on the prompts; recall the body scan and soften your jaw, shoulders, any area of your body that is holding tension; if needed, take a few moments to just focus on your breath.
  • Ask yourself which parts of your past, present, and future are the most vivid?
  • What is fuzzy?
  • Are there parts you’re not sure that you’re remembering correctly?
  • How has your response evolved over the number of times you might have re-lived this memory?
  • Let this information guide the creation of your personal symbols.
  • Try to focus less on what you are drawing and more on the act of drawing: as you reflect on the prompts, be open to any feelings that surface and let those guide your hand/arm; make repetitive marks; make large gestures; deviate from any “plan” you may have in mind at the beginning.
  • If your mind wanders and you start to feel anxious, perhaps recalling difficult memories, gently guide your attention to your senses. Feel the material/tool in your hand, notice any smells and sounds around you, focus on the rise and fall of your belly as you breathe.

Little Sage Workshops

In Little Sage workshops, participants are invited to build strength, flexibility, and acquire artistic skills in tandem with cultivating character strengths and overall resilience. Every 90-minute workshop includes developmentally appropriate mindfulness methods (e.g., yoga, breath work, creative movement), art-making techniques, and supports social-emotional learning through solo and collaborative group work.


Sources & Readings:

Mooney A, Earl JK, Mooney CH, Bateman H. Using Balanced Time Perspective to Explain Well-Being and Planning in Retirement. Front Psychol. 2017 Oct 13;8:1781. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01781. PMID: 29081757; PMCID: PMC5646178.

Rönnlund, M., Koudriavtseva, A., Germundsjö, L. et al. Mindfulness Promotes a More Balanced Time Perspective: Correlational and Intervention-Based Evidence. Mindfulness 10, 1579–1591 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01113-x

Qu F, Shi X, Zhang A, Gu C. Development of Young Children’s Time Perception: Effect of Age and Emotional Localization. Front Psychol. 2021 Jun 8;12:688165. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.688165. PMID: 34168601; PMCID: PMC8217659.