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Think of Your Future Self

This is a really important tool to start Eating Happy, and it’s a tip I got from the brilliant book The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal and I’m sharing it with you today as I use it with my clients.

In this book McGonigal shared some hilarious experiments about how humans think, and operate. One such experiment was to ask people to drink two drinks, one was pleasant and the other was rather disgusting. The participants were told they could drink one now, and they’d have to come back and drink the other the following week. Most drank the nice one immediately and had to come back the week after and drink the yucky one.

The meaning of this? It seems most of us think of our future selves as a totally separate person. That old person we will become? That’s not us! Right? Nah, we can’t even imagine ourselves down the line and so we put that person in some pretty difficult situations! We get them to drink disgusting beverages, work until they are worn out as you didn’t save a pension, get them to have some pretty full on surgery because you decided not to quit the ass-on-sofa routine that’s working out so well for you.

Well, I got news for you buddy! That person is you! The take-away from this experiment though was that a tiny little change really helped people, and that was to create a ‘future memory’. I did this, and it was pretty powerful. You imagine yourself as an older you, frail, finding things harder to do, looking in your bag for some money, putting on clothes. Make it real, this is you.

This is great for long term thinking – but we can think in shorter terms to reap the benefits of future you thinking. If you eat all that food right now, will tomorrow you have anything to take to work and eat there? If you eat the whole loaf of bread, will tomorrow-you have a nice feeling belly, or a painful one? You still have the power to choose, but by really connecting to the fact that it will be YOU that has that belly ache and not a stand-in, you can change how you connect to it.

Other things you can start doing for your future self are things like; turning your trousers the right way round when you take them off at night, putting out your trainers for tomorrow’s run so the tomorrow-you doesn’t have to hunt under the kitchen table for them, you could prepare breakfast so tomorrow you has a nice morning.