I’m a present-tense hedonist.

A week ago I posted a fascinating ten-minute video on how time perspective differs within people. To further the discussion, Jason Kottke summarized the six different time zones in which people live rather effectively:

  • Past positive: focus is on the "good old days," past successes, nostalgia, etc.
  • Past negative: focus on regret, failure, all the things that went wrong
  • Present hedonistic: living in the moment for pleasure and avoiding pain, seek novelty and sensation
  • Present fatalism: life is governed by outside forces, "It doesn't pay to plan."
  • Future: focus is on learning to work rather than play
  • Transcendental Future: life begins after the death of the mortal body

I took an online survey to determine the primary time zones that I operate within, and here are my results, along with the average results for people taking the survey:

Past negative

My score:          2.60

Average score:  3.00

Past-positive My score:          3.67

Average score:  3.70

Present-hedonistic My score           4.27

Average score:  3.40

Present-fatalistic My score:          1.44

Average score:  2.40

Future (lumping the two categories into one) My score:          2.54

Average score:  3.50

What does this mean?

According to the data, I appear to be much more of a present-hedonist and much less future-oriented than most people. In other words, I tend to live in the moment more often than most and give less thought to my future.

Could one-two near-death experiences contribute to this perspective? I think so. I know it angers and befuddles some of my friends and colleagues, but I often wait until the last moment before completing a task in fear that I could die tomorrow and would have spent my last day on Earth completing an assignment that was not due until after my expiration date.

In the minds of some, this constant assumption that I could be dead tomorrow sounds ludicrous and inane, but having been brought back from the brink twice, I like to think that I understand the fragility of life better than most and live my life a little differently as a result.

I am also considerably less fatalistic than the average person, meaning that I do not believe that my future is predestined or that anyone save myself has a hand in my future outcomes. This is likely the result of a lifetime spent taking care of myself without the safety net of family, combined with a lack of belief in any God-like being.

So I’m a fiercely independent, Godless hedonist.

Interesting, but I didn’t need a 54-question survey to tell me this.