Looking back, looking forward and happiness

People who maintain a balanced time perspective are more likely to be happy, new research has suggested. Published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, the report found content individuals are often those who have fond memories, enjoy the present and also have future targets to work towards.

A team at San Francisco State University explained keeping these feelings in moderation and not going overboard on any one in particular has the ability to make adults feel vital, satisfied and grateful.

Ryan Howell, a researcher at the learning institute, observed: "If you are too extreme or rely too much on any one of these perspectives, it becomes detrimental and you can get into very destructive types of behaviours."

Mr Howell explained cognitive flexibility plays a big part in helping people deal with different situations, noting an individual who holds one perspective too dearly - such as the past, present or future - may find themselves limited in certain circumstances.

Paul Buckley, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Generally research seems to show that having memories of experiences and events tend to be good for happiness, however I would guess that if you get stuck in the past, probably some period that you enjoyed such as teenage years, this stops you moving on and blocks new potential experiences.

"An example that springs to mind is the middle aged man with long hair, 30-40 years ago was probably the era he particularly enjoyed and has failed to move on.

"It would seem logical that these people are less flexible in their thinking and possibly somewhat obsessive. In addition, research also seems to show that people who have some future aim in life are also happier."