How to connect with your future self to make better, wiser decisions

How to connect with your future self to make better, wiser decisions

If you’re a reader of all things self-help and happiness, you’ve no doubt read much about living in the moment and being present.

Which is great. Because mindfulness and meditation and the range of strategies frequently recommended in this domain have been proven to be helpful. People who’re more mindful, who meditate more regularly, tend, also, to be happier and healthier.

At the same time, however, there are indubitably benefits to reflecting on the past and thinking about the future. Especially, as this interesting article suggests, thinking about your future self …

via Psyche by Shayla Love

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In February 1969, around 10 in the morning, a young Jorge Luis Borges sat down next to an elderly Jorge Luis Borges on a bench by the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Or so it happened in the Borges short story ‘The Other’. The two Borgeses talk about writing, family and history – while puzzling over how a past self is confronting a future self. At one point, the younger Borges asks the older: ‘How’s your memory?’

‘I realised that for a mere boy not yet 20, a man of 70 some-odd years was practically a corpse,’ Borges wrote.

Outside of fiction, our past and future selves don’t encounter each other so directly. These selves are separated by time, and a future version of you can seem like a distant stranger. But your relationship with that future self could have a big impact on the decisions you make today.

You might think that the one person you can rely on to make decisions in your best interests would be yourself. Yet, people frequently make choices that they later suffer from, in part because the future feels far away. Maybe you’ve woken up after having one too many drinks the night before and thought: ‘Why did I do that?’ The Saturday-night version of you didn’t have the Sunday-morning self in mind. These choices aren’t trivial, or related only to hangovers. They can include not saving enough money for retirement, or not making enough time to exercise, rest, eat well or nurture relationships. What happens in the present catches up to us but, oddly enough, it’s difficult to remember that.

We may think of our future selves as more like strangers

Upon closer examination, it’s not unreasonable to feel detached from your future self. Any number of aspects of your life and physical self might transform over time: where you live, who you spend time with, your job, your hair colour, and even the cells in your body all change as the years pass by.

‘We can be estranged from our future selves,’ says Hal Hershfield, a psychologist at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the author of Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today (2023). ‘That can help explain why we may prioritise today over the future.’

Many of us actually think of our future selves the way we think of other people. This has been demonstrated experimentally: when people are asked to imagine their own birthdays in the distant future, they do so from a third-person viewpoint; think ahead to your future self blowing out birthday candles, and you’re likely to picture yourself the way you would a character in a film, rather than seeing it through your own eyes. Research led by Emily Pronin at Princeton University has shown that people sometimes make similar decisions for their future selves and for others. For example, they sign up their future selves and other people to drink larger amounts of a disgusting liquid (for a science experiment) than they volunteer their present selves to drink. Studies even suggest that, for some people, parts of the brain activate in similar ways in response to thinking of the future self as they do when thinking of other people – and that this tendency is associated with choosing smaller rewards in the present over waiting for larger rewards in the future…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE