Future-Self Thinking

Future-Self Thinking


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You know that feeling when you have a reasonably fixed opinion on a topic that you haven’t really thought about extensively? And then when that opinion gets shattered and it makes you think a lot about it?

I had that this week after watching 2 videos by CGP Gray. If you’re interested, you should watch them in this order - first this one (Why Die) and then this one (The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant).

These videos (and then this one about curing ageing) have really made me acutely appreciate the importance of maximising our time in good health. I’ve since started looking into the evidence behind plant-based diets and their association with longevity (ie: increased risk life expectancy) and reduced cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc etc.

I’ve never really cared much about what I eat, as I’ve always felt that the amount of exercise I do nullifies it and keeps me at a decent weight. However, in other areas of my life, I like to act in service of my future self. Ie: I want to be able to look back in n years time and think I’m glad I spent my time doing x, y, z. I think I’m pretty good at following this advice in most domains (in fact, it’s one of my main ‘secrets’ for being productive / getting stuff done), but when it comes to food, I’ve been neglecting this advice. So starting from today, I’m changing that. I still haven’t decided if that means going full-on vegan/vegetarian, but it certainly involves reducing my meat consumption, and thinking far more about what goes into my body. After all, there’s almost no circumstance I can imagine where I’ll look back on my university days and think it’s good that you ordered Zis Piri Piri takeaway twice a week.

Moving away slightly from that self-centred paragraph, I think this is good general advice for everyone - act in service to your future self. While trying to find a citation for this, I came across this article on The Simple Dollar (pretty good personal finance blog btw) that goes into more depth about 'Future Self thinking’. Worth a read if you’re into this sort of stuff - I think a key takeaway (hehe) is that this does not mean you have to be miserable in the present, which is the standard objection to advice like this. It means you just think a little bit more about whether that short-term hedonistic impulse is actually going to make you or your future self happier.

Almost ties in with hedonic adaptation that we talked about in a previous post.

  1. First watch this - Why Die?
  2. Then watch this - The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant -
  3. How to cure ageing during your lifetime
  4. Taking a Hard Look at Your Future Self - The Simple Dollar

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