May 25, 2014

Would Seeing an Image of Your Aging Self Change What You Do Today? Harvard Business Review

As I grow older, I know that time is not on my side. It would seem that I need to make the most of the time I will be on this earth. It is all but impossible to imagine what the next 10-20 years will bring but I know that, if I am alive, I want to be ALIVE! I began to wonder, would seeing my "future self" in a digitally altered image or writing a letter to my "future self" about what I will do today change the quality of my life in the future?  Maybe so. And why would that be?

I began this line of thought after reading an article in the Harvard Business Review. The article called Would You Make Better Decisions if You Could See Yourself in the Future? told about a study by New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business assistant professor Hal Hershfield on the effect looking into the future might have on decisions made today. The gist of the article was stated in one of the opening paragraphs:
Many people feel disconnected from the individuals they’ll be in the future and, as a result, discount rewards that would later benefit them. But brief exposure to aged images of the self can change that behavior. Harvard Business Review: Would You Make Better Decisions if You Could See Yourself in the Future
I was surprised at how this study revealed a certain detachment by people about their future until they actually saw an image of themselves altered to reflect what they would look like in 10 or 20 years. In a continuation of this study, a test group of young people were asked to write a letter to their future selves.

The researchers found that the subjects made better decisions about money after they saw how they looked in the future. In the letter writing part of the study they found that the letter writing group were less likely than a others to take a chance that might come back and haunt them at some future time.

Even at my age I am ambivalent about skin cancer or being overweight and how it might affect my future health. So I was struck by how this study might apply to my life as I age. See, I think I am going to live a very long time. I had better take care of my "today self" so my "future self" has a chance. Would I be more aware of my choices if, for example, I were to see an image of myself altered digitally to make me look as though I were 10, 15, or even 20 years older? Would I change something I was doing today? And how about that letter writing idea?

So I wrote a very private letter to myself and printed it. Here is part of it.  I began....
Dear Future Self, 
I decided to take the time to remind you of the past and while I am doing that, take a peek at the future. So I am writing you a letter. It has been a long time since you were in the place I am today but the way you are feeling is a result of what I did back when you were your younger self.....
.....My mind is on my mind a lot now. I don't want to live to be you if my mind is not good. So I read and talk with my husband, neighbors or friends as much as possible.....
 I still write my blog in 2014. I should publish anything that I think you might like. I have not done that but maybe today is a good day to start. You might find this letter in a notebook or even published one day and we will laugh together.....
I almost didn't use this image...
I can see my double chin.
But this post is all about HONESTY and if
I am not honest with myself, who will I be

honest with.
Oh, and I visited with my "future self" yesterday. I know you remember Clementine next door. Remember she was ninety in 2014 and still walked every morning and moved as lithely as I want to when we are her age. I think she is a reminder that less is more.When I grow up I want to be her. I am working on it. 
So, Future Self, did I make the grade? How are things going for you? If they are not good and it is my fault, I am sorry. I did the my very best. 
Much love
Me
I did not include all my thoughts here in the blog...somethings are just between me, myself and I. I was amazed at what I could tell myself that I could never tell anyone else. I am very glad I took the time to write the letter. And I do think it will make a difference.

Why don't you give it a try and come back to let me know how it went. I don't think you will regret it.

b+

Note: I would still like to do the digitally altered picture but I will have to figure out how to do that tomorrow.


Idea from:

You Make Better Decision if you See Your Future Self (Harvard Business Review)
How Would You Live Today If You Could See Yourself In 20 Years? | Riskology.co http://riskology.co/future-self/
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