A positive vision of your future will keep you going and help you to learn, grow, and persevere. It will help you to boost your immunity to short-term failure and find the silver lining in temporary setbacks.
Did you know that humans are the only animals who think about the future? Because of this unique gift, we can improve your future–and in turn your present–by visualizing how good it can be.
Some best-selling authors warn us to avoid future thinking. Eckhart Tolle, in his very popular book The Power of Now (New World Library, 1999), advises us to live in the present and keep from dwelling on past regrets or fearing the future. Being present-oriented is good, but it is only a partial solution.
Living in the Future
Henry Ford understood the power of imagining the future as a bright one when he said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are probably right.” When we create images for ourselves of a dazzling future in which “we can,” we are better able to propel ourselves forward to build such a future. Good things happen when we imagine they will happen.
Having an image in our mind of a longed-for future can give us a sense of purpose, a goal to accomplish. Research supports the idea that having a purpose brings fulfillment. In a 1996 study for the University of California, Riverside, psychologist Heidi Lepper, PhD, found that most older Americans who lived their lives with a purpose felt satisfied, while most who had no purpose felt unsettled.
Creating an Image of Your Future Self
There are a few approaches to help you see your future self and adopt the positive feelings associated with it.
Imagine yourself speaking before a group on a topic you feel passionately about. Place yourself in the audience. What do you see when you look at yourself on the stage? What do you imagine people in the audience saying about you? What do they say to you when your presentation concludes? How do you imagine yourself feeling during this event? How would your life change if you had that feeling every day? What would you be able to accomplish as a result of living with such a purpose?
Another simple way to get in touch with your purpose and create a brighter future is to recall a time when you really enjoyed life. What were you doing? What were you feeling? What values did you have? How would you feel if you lived these values more often in your present life?
Getting the Full Advantage
Take your time doing these exercises and create clear mental images of what you see. Pinpoint your feelings–what are the sensations, and where do they occur in your body? A fun way of making these images more tangible is to create a collage from magazine pictures, then laminate or frame it to use as a reminder of your bright future. Let your creative energy loose. You could also write poetry about the image you have of yourself in the future, or create a song, a dance, a painting–anything your heart desires!
What Guarantees Happiness?
Daniel Gilbert, in his best-selling book Stumbling on Happiness (Knopf, 2006), tells us that we cannot know for sure what will make us happy in the future, since we cannot predict how we will react to new or unforeseen events. In the end your happiness will depend on how you view yourself. Research indicates that a solid belief in ourselves will increase our satisfaction at home and at work.
A positive vision of your future will keep you going and help you to learn, grow, and persevere. It will help you to boost your immunity to short-term failure and find the silver lining in temporary setbacks. You can create your own bright future.