In the Prepandemic era, the weeks following the holidays were once the time to buy for yourself the gifts you didn’t get. These were usually material things that we wanted at the time.
I’d like you to think about one special person very close to you that you may have forgotten during the holidays: your future self.
We all tend to make decisions each day from the perspective of our present desires and short term goals. Too often we neglect our future selves.
We also don’t realize how different our lives and values will be in the future. If you’re a grown up, you know you are not the same person you were 15 years ago. How have your relationships, goals and sense of self changed over the years?
At the same time, we underestimate our capacity to change in the future.
Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, calls this “The End of History” illusion. He says, “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished.”
People with a fixed mindset, as defined by Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, are defined by who they are at the present moment. They are “trapped in the tyranny of now” and this influences the stories they tell themselves and how they deal with negative events and failure.
With a fixed mindset, when we fail in any of life’s challenges, such as passing a test, getting a promotion or learning a new skill, we attribute failure to personal qualities that we assume will never change. We might label ourselves as dumb, not good at math or just not good enough. It can make us give up.
The opposite is the growth mindset with which we see ourselves as always in a state of growing, learning and becoming. With this perspective, we learn and grow from setbacks.
If you want to be happier today and in the future, look at yourself and others with this growth mindset. In spite of the pandemic, the bad behaviour of some and the terrible events in the news, we can hope and work today for a better future. Our society will continue to grow and evolve, and we collectively have the ability to create that better future.
Lets begin today, with own our future selves. In what ways do you steal from your future self for expedience or gratification today? Making bad food or substance choices? Sitting alone in front of the TV or computer instead of calling up a good friend or going for a walk?
On the other hand, in what ways do you invest in your future self with positive, life-affirming and prosocial actions?
Think about the kind of person you would like to be a year or five years from now: healthier and happier with more satisfying relationships.
How will you invest your time, attention and energy today to be that person? In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear says that every action today is a vote for the person you want to become.
I’ll be giving a free online talk on The Keys to Positive Change at 7 pm on Tuesday, January 19th, 2021. As part of the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s Empowering Patients public health education program, I’ll share practical tips for improving your wellbeing and making positive changes that last. These are the secrets that my patients and I have successfully used to transform new habits into healthy routines that stick.
For more information, please check https://divisionsbc.ca/burnaby/for-patients/empowering-patients over the next few weeks or email Leona Cullen at email@example.com