Present Focus

Presented By Lotic Stories Lab
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Balancing Today and Tomorrow

Present focus is the ability to be grounded in one's current reality without dwelling on past or future events. Being present has been demonstrated to increase focus, raise motivation, and improve physical health across a number of measures. In addition, being present-focused minimizes depressive and anxious thoughts, which our minds often gravitate towards when left unchecked.

The ability to focus on the present moment is an important skill, but it is also important to balance this way of thinking with a healthy sense of long-term goals. Overly present-focused people may sometimes value instant gratification at the expense of relationships and goals with long-term benefits. They can be averse to tedious endeavors and routines that may be healthy over time but lack immediate payoff.

The extent to which people focus their attention on the past, present, and future is also known as temporal focus. Recently, Shipp et al. created the Temporal Focus Scale (TFS), which contains only 12 questions, and displays a percentage range between how much emphasis a person gives to past, present, and future. In the TFS, participants are asked to rate how much they agree with statements such as "I replay memories of the past in my mind," "My mind is on the here and now," and "I focus on my future."

Shipp et al. also found positive correlations associated with present and future-focused individuals as opposed to past-focused individuals. They found present and future-focused individuals to be more satisfied with life and have more positive outlooks than past-focused individuals. Similarly, participants with neurotic tendencies were more likely to be past-focused than present or future-focused. Additionally, extroverted participants tended to be more present and future-focused than past-focused. Lastly, present-focused individuals were most likely to be satisfied with and committed to their current employers.

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