December 9, 2018

Caring for the Future You


Recently I came across a website that sends letters to the future version of you.

I had already heard of this idea before – it’s coming up in films and novels once in a while.

The ability to send a letter to the future you raises an important question.

How do you treat future you?

Does the future you even figure in your thoughts, calculations, ideas? After all, future you is not really you. Think about yourself 10 years ago. Were you the same person? I know I wasn’t.

And if it’s not you, if it’s someone else, then what kind of relationship do you have with that person?

For starters, it’s a bit one-sided, isn’t it? The balance of power is very much in your favor. You have all the leverage. You can even kill the future you, while there is nothing your future you can do to you.

And if you think about it, isn’t it what a lot of people are doing? Killing the future them? In exchange for the pleasure of being in a moment? Think of all the addicts – they don’t care about future them. They will say that they have the right to do what they want to their bodies. But what about the body of the future them? They think the future them is still them, but is it?

The irony is, that the future you will have to pay for the pleasure of the present you.

If you think about it, future you is a hostage stuck in a bad relationship. He’s someone you can dump all of your worries on. Someone you will hurt and neglect.

Is it right to treat future you like that? After all, future you is your closest relative. You share the same DNA and most of the past. And just because you are close, you choose to hurt future you worse than you hurt anyone else?

I can call an abusive relationship when I see one.

There’s a psychological trick that you are supposed to use in hostage situations. Introduce yourself to whoever took you hostage. Tell them your name. If you tell them your name, they will realize that you are a person too.

A letter to future self does exactly that.

When you address a letter to yourself, you start thinking about the future you. Imagining what future you will be like. Suddenly future you becomes a person.

Interesting thing is, you can do wonderful things for future you, and it won’t take much effort. Invest 15 min each day in learning a new language, and suddenly future you is fluent in a language you never knew. Work out every day, walk a bit more – and future you will be a lot leaner and healthier. Save a bit of money each day – and boom, future you is well-off! Isn’t it great that you can give somebody so much by doing so little?

After all, you are a future self to someone too. You are now hostage to decisions that past you made 10 years ago. Don’t you wish past you was kinder to you?

And if you keep being good to future you, at some point you will find yourself in the great position of someone who both cares about his future self and is cared for by his past self.

No doubt, making all three of you very happy 😉 .


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