The Present Bias | Now Is More Important Than Ever
So let us honor this precious gift, The fleeting moments, swift and swift, Embrace the now, for time won’t wait, Live fully, love deeply, before it’s too late.
For time, dear friend, is but a guide, A reminder to savor, to appreciate wide, In its ceaseless march, life’s precious rhyme, A reminder to cherish each tick, each tock, in time.
Death, too, happens in an instant. The journey to death can be long, drawn out and painful. It can be painless too. It can be fought against with all attempts to avoid it, but its inevitableness humbles all. This is arguably the second most pertinent second in any person’s life. King or pauper, tinker or spy, beggar or thief, death is a moment, an experience, an event we will all take part in, whether we like it or not.
A runner crossing the finish line, coming in second place. Someone being given a second chance to make things right. Quickly making a second choice in a decisive moment. Waves crashing onto the shore, creating a mesmerizing sight and sound. The intense blast of a bomb detonating, with its destructive force.
Christians are encouraged to use their time wisely and responsibly, recognizing that life is a gift from God.
The rapid firing of guns, punctuating the air with sharp sounds. The screeching sound and impact of cars colliding in an accident. Thought-provoking questions being asked, sparking curiosity. Swift answers being given, providing clarity and understanding. Strangers meeting for the first time, potentially forming lifelong connections.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, advises believers to “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16), implying the importance of making the most of the opportunities presented to them.
Friendly faces breaking into warm smiles, spreading joy and positivity. The contagious sound of children’s laughter, filling the air with happiness. The gentle glow of light illuminating a room. Raindrops hitting the ground, creating a rhythmic and soothing melody.
While Christians are encouraged to make the most of their time, they are also called to trust in God’s providence and guidance. This means that they should seek God’s will and align their actions with His purposes.
A second, a point in time. So many of them pass us by without a care, each filled with so much potential.
In all the seconds which happen, none seem more pertinent to our lives than the moment of conception, of our own creation. The moment a little microscopic wiggly swimming sperm breaks through the outer shell of an egg to conjoin and grow into a new being with a new consciousness.
A second of magic and wonder. The process has been filmed and written about countless times, and yet, like so many things explained by the empiric method, it is a moment which fires and inspires wonderment and, for some, spirituality.
Then there are the other things which come and go in a flash; love and loss, joy and ecstasy can seem eternal but are most oftentimes fleeting in a second or a longer collection of seconds.
Decisions and commitment are very often things which occur within a second. To ‘do’ or not to ‘do’. To say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Choices are taken, either consciously or not, in a second; some of which can create consequences which last for a lifetime or affect countless lives.
Scientific experiments related to cognitive bias have highlighted the difference between the slow logical part of the brain, which weighs up pros and cons in a balanced way, and the much faster part of the brain, which allows us to make snap decisions without being aware of the thought process, the auto-pilot part of the brain.
It’s this fast part of the brain, the bit we are not conscious of, which tends to make judgements. Do we like something? Will be do something?
Two great brains started looking at this snappy part of the brain. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky started to look at brains biases, They postulated that are all sorts of things where we are ‘hard wired’ to decide or feel something before being aware of our thought process and moreover, if questioned ‘why we like or feel something’ and ‘for what reason’, the slow part of our brain will ‘makeup’ or ‘concoct’ the reason. It will create a logical path which supports our ‘first reaction’, our gut reaction to tastes and choices.
Kahneman and Tversky’s research challenged the prevailing assumption of human rationality in decision-making processes. Their work demonstrated that individuals often rely on mental shortcuts and systematic biases when making choices, leading to predictable patterns of behavior. Their studies had a profound impact on various disciplines, including psychology, economics, and finance, and laid the foundation for the field of behavioral economics.
What’s interesting to me is the ‘present bias’. It’s the part of the psyche which causes us to pay attention to the present without much care for the future.
In Thailand, where I live now, this approach to life is positively encouraged. Due, at least in part, to the Buddhist faith. Maybe also influenced by substistance living, poverty and hardship being for many a present consideration or at least within living memory of older members of most families. Here a swift decision is made, and behaviour follows – very often neither hanging onto nor damning the consequences; it is not thought about. How often have I heard the words “you think too much”.when I ask a question such as “What if…?”
This can at times seem at counterpoint to the Christian perspective. Christianity places a significant emphasis on the eternal perspective. Christians are encouraged to focus not only on the present life but also on the hope of eternal life with God; not only on the present, but on cesequence in the future.
This perspective helps believers prioritize their actions and values in light of eternity.
About 900 years ago, Omar Khayyam wrote:
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
Omar Khayyam’s symbolizes the intellectual and artistic flourishing that took place during the Islamic Golden Age, when scholars from diverse backgrounds made significant contributions to various fields of knowledge. His multidisciplinary expertise and poetic brilliance continue to inspire and captivate audiences around the world.
How right he was about that moving finger!! Clever bloke!
Second place, second chance, second choice, waves crashing, bombs blasting, guns shooting, cars hitting, questions asked, answers are given, people meeting, nice faces smiling, children laughing, light shining, and rain hitting the ground. All in a second.
1 Bible Gateway (n.d.) Ephesians 5:16 NIV – making the most of every opportunity – Bible Gateway. [online] Available at: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ephesians%205:16&version=NIV [Accessed 14 Jul. 2023].
2 Simply Psychology (2023) Prospect Theory in Psychology: Loss Aversion Bias. [online] Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/prospect-theory.html [Accessed 14 Jul. 2023].
3 Simply Psychology (2023) Prospect Theory in Psychology: Loss Aversion Bias. [online] Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/prospect-theory.html [Accessed 14 Jul. 2023].
4 World History Encyclopedia (2020) Omar Khayyam – World History Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: https://www.worldhistory.org/Omar_Khayyam/ [Accessed 14 Jul. 2023].
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About Rev Lloyd Hobbard-Mitchell
Rev. Lloyd Hobbard-Mitchell, an Englishman deeply connected to Thailand, was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood on 28th May 2023.
In addition to his religious journey, he has worked as an online English teacher and pursued a career as an artist. He has also operated a tour desk business with his wife within international brand hotels.
Lloyd has extensive experience in the voluntary sector, specifically in addressing homelessness and social welfare.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and embraces opportunities to meet new people, see new places, explore cultural similarities, and celebrate differences.