The 'future self' strategy is a simple and positive way to becoming your best self
via unsplash

Who do you want to be in ten years? Do you want to be someone who's more compassionate? More wealthy? Physically fit? Married? Less of a push-over? A better golfer? More spiritual?

Some of us who sincerely ask ourselves this question will be able to become the person they imagine while others will not. Why? According to scientific research, the difference between failure and success is the ability to create a clear vision of our future selves.

Those who achieve this vision are more likely to behave in ways that are conducive to reaching their goals.


To put it bluntly, if you have a strong mental visualization of a future you that is in shape, you will be less likely to eat a bag of donuts and smoke a pack of cigarettes today.

A major reason why people fail to visualize a future self is they don't believe they will change significantly. Psychologist Dan Gilbert explained this cognitive trap perfectly in his 2014 Ted Talk.

"Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we're going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it's hard to imagine, it's not likely to happen," Gilbert said.

"Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished," Gilbert continues. "The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you've ever been. The one constant in our life is change."

via Ted

The good news is that you are going to change over the next ten years. So the best thing to do is have a target to reach or else you will most likely be walking around in circles and changing in ways which you cannot control.

According to psychologist Hal Hershfield, the most important thing is to create a future self that you can relate to and see as yourself. If you visualize a future self that is completely different than your current self or one that isn't clearly articulated, you will fail to reach your goals.

"Seeing the future self as another person, albeit one who feels close to us now, may allow for more patient, long-term decision-making," Hershfield wrote. "Seeing the distant future self as an emotional stranger, however, may result in decisions that prioritize today over tomorrow."

Hershfeld and his colleagues were able to witness this disconnect between our current and future selves using fMRI technology. Participants who had a closer connection to the future self they visualized were more likely to make thoughtful financial decisions.

Those who thought their future self looked like another person, were more likely to think of their future self as a stranger. So they made financial decisions that were more reckless.

Benjamin Hardy, PhD says that the best way to become the future selves we desire is to harness the power of your identity.

"Identity is crucial for driving present behavior," Hardy wrote in Fast Company. "A core tenet in psychology is that the best way to predict a person's future behavior is by looking at their past behavior. However, when you've clarified your future self, and are actively chasing it … then your future — not your past — can be what is predicting your behavior.

Our personal identities are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and are so powerful they are nearly impervious. Identities are the reason why people with dogmatic political beliefs can be shown facts that contradict their opinions and still refuse to change.


via Unsplash

"The brain's primary responsibility is to take care of the body, to protect the body," Jonas Kaplan, a psychologist at the University of Southern California, told Vox. "The psychological self is the brain's extension of that. When our self feels attacked, our [brain is] going to bring to bear the same defenses that it has for protecting the body."

So imagine if you took the most stubborn part of yourself and programmed it to become the person you wish to be?

One way to get started is by writing a letter to your future self.

Make the future you in 5, 10 or 20 years your pen pal. Frequently write to them explaining who you are today and the person you hope to become. This will create a kinship with your future self and make it more likely for you to know what that person will want and desire.

Hardy also has a checklist of how to "define and become your future self."

Imagine who your future self is.

Hold your current identity more "loosely," knowing that who you are right now is temporary, not permanent.

Have the courage to admit what you truly want (tell people about your future self).

Use your new narrative, focused on your goals, to drive your daily decisions and behavior.

Measure your progress (deliberate practice).

Invest in your future self (escalation of commitment)

Never be defined by who you are right now.

Who is your future self?

Where will you be in 10 years?

Who are you "chasing"?

Research shows that you will definitely change over the next ten years. So now's the time to decide, will it be self-directed or the result of day-in and day-out behaviors done with no clear goal?

If you've never seen a Maori haka performed, you're missing out.

The Maori are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, and their language and customs are an integral part of the island nation. One of the most recognizable Maori traditions outside of New Zealand is the haka, a ceremonial dance or challenge usually performed in a group. The haka represents the pride, strength, and unity of a tribe and is characterized by foot-stamping, body slapping, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic chanting.

Haka is performed at weddings as a sign of reverence and respect for the bride and groom and are also frequently seen before sports competitions, such as rugby matches.

Here's an example of a rugby haka:

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

Keep Reading Show less
via Good Morning America

Anyone who's an educator knows that teaching is about a lot more than a paycheck. "Teaching is not a job, but a way of life, a lens by which I see the world, and I can't imagine a life that did not include the ups and downs of changing and being changed by other people," Amber Chandler writes in Education Week.

So it's no surprise that Kelly Klein, 54, who's taught at Falcon Heights Elementary in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, for the past 32 years still teaches her kindergarten class even as she is being treated for stage-3 ovarian cancer.

Her class is learning remotely due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, so she is able to continue doing what she loves from her computer at M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota, even while undergoing chemotherapy.

Keep Reading Show less