Discover yourself by going back to the future

How often do you think about the future? And when you do, how far out do you go?
Five years, 10 years, 30 years? 
Apparently, how we think about the future, and the relationship we develop with our future self, has a boundless string of benefits, from tempering depression and anxiety to improving decision making and securing a strong financial future.
We’re talking about prospection – the act of anticipating, foresight. Some call it future thinking, others say future sightedness.
No matter the term, the point is the same. The more time we think about our future self, the better our lives will be. 
“Future thinking is about readiness,” explains Marina Gorbis, executive director of the research think tank Institute of the Future.
“In future thinking, if you’ve considered a whole range of possibilities, you’re kind of inoculating yourself,” Gorbis said. “If one of these possibilities comes about, you’re better prepared.”
Gorbis adds, “Thinking about the future is also about imagining. It’s about transforming how we think. It’s about creating a map to the future and looking for the big areas of opportunity.”
A vivid sense? 
David Robson, in a piece for the British Broadcasting Corp., the world’s largest public broadcaster, poses this provocative question, “Do you have a vivid sense of your future self?” Robson suggests this relationship “needs to be nurtured and cultivated.” 
Psychologist Jennice Vilhauer agrees.
In a column for Psychology Today magazine, Vilhauer encourages us to “develop a relationship with your future self,” bluntly stating, “Until the day you die, you have a future self… the more you think about being that future self, the more your current thoughts and actions will start to align.” 
The research points in just one direction.
Wellness writer Barbara Field speaks to the “mental health benefits from allowing your imagination to participate in future thinking – from harnessing more motivation to achieving long term goals.”
Behavioral researchers Robert Thorstad and Phillip Wolff said, “Thinking about the future can lead to better decisions. It can lead people to stay in school, save money, and take care of their families and homes.”
Increase optimism? Create a sense of purpose? Reduce rumination? Vilhauer says yes to all, future thinking will assist. 
And if we don’t?
Jane McGonigal, game designer and director of Games Research & Development at the Institute for the Future, said, “Studies show that the more your brain treats your future self like a stranger, the less self-control you exhibit today, and the less likely you are to make pro-social choices, choices that will probably help the world in the long run.
“You’re less able to resist temptations, you procrastinate more, you exercise less, you put away less money for your retirement, you give up sooner in the face of frustration or temporary pain, and you’re less likely to care about or try to prevent long-term challenges like climate change.”
A letter, and three good things
I’ve never written a letter to my future self, but health journalist Brittany Edelmann, in a piece for Discover Magazine, says I should give it a try. 
Summer Allen also suggests creating a reverse gratitude journal.
The science writer explains, “One way to engage in anticipatory savoring, suggested by (psychologists Anne Marie Roepke and Martin Seligman)... is to modify the “three good things” gratitude exercise.
“Instead of writing three good things that happened today, you can write three good things you anticipate happening tomorrow and what you can do to make it more likely that those things actually happen.”   
How about visualization?
“Spend a few minutes each day imagining a positive future situation that you’re looking forward to,” said the psychologist Vilhauer, “such as a vacation, or even just going for a walk with a friend.
“Visualize the details of the scenario, including what you see, hear, feel, and smell.”
A letter, a journal, a touch of visualization – whatever your pleasure, know that the time you spend with your future self, will be time well spent. 

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