Thinking more about the future makes you healthier, wealthier, fitter...

A fascinating report in Slate magazine from gaming guru Jane McGonigal from The Institute For The Future, surveying Americans on how often they think about the future. 

In terms of 5, 10 or 30 year timescales, turns out it's not that often, as you can see from the press release (although 60% think of the next month every day). However there does seem to be a hard-core contingent who are dedicated futurists: 

  • A minority of Americans are highly future-minded: 17 percent say they think about the world 30 years out at least once a week; 29 percent think about the 10-year future at least once a week, and 35 percent think about the five-year future at least once a week 

McGonigal says this points to a "future gap" - where the majority of Americans are not connecting to their future selves. Which is a problem.

Neuroscience and psychology show that people who can't imagine themselves in a somewhat distant future exhibit less self-control and make less pro-social choices. "You’re less able to resist temptations, you procrastinate more, you exercise less, you put away less money for your retirement, you give up sooner in the face of frustration or temporary pain, and you’re less likely to care about or try to prevent long-term challenges like climate change", Jane insists. 

Jane teaches how to think like a futurist classes at Stanford - but suggests that many more places and institutions could do this, given the personal and social benefits it brings.

We hope to bring futures thinking to the political labs we're setting up throughout the UK. Why keep all that goodness in California? 

 

 

 

FUTURES, BIG PICTUREpat kane