Around two million years ago, we humans evolved the absolutely stunning ability to see things that were going to happen in our heads.
Two million years might seem like a long time, but as far as evolution goes we’ve just developed this miraculous ability. We’re still trying to grasp how to use our pre-frontal cortex properly.
This ability to project experiences upon ourselves can be quite useful. It allows me to try out blog post topics in my head before I write them. If they bomb in my head, there is a good chance you won’t want to read them either. This saves me the trouble of writing (too many) bad blog posts.
I like to call this our futuresense.
No other animal has this ability to anticipate the future quite like humans do. It’s hard to compare it with any other ability. I trust you can do this, and you know what I’m talking about.
This ability to futuresense is cool, but the problem is that it doesn’t always work right. In fact, a good deal of the time our futuresense is completely off.
We don’t know what will make us happy.
I gaurantee at some point in your life you’ve sat awake at night and anticipated a date that was going to change your life — and then it was a boring date. Or you couldn’t wait to get your hands on a new gizmo-gadget, but this didn’t end up solving all of your problems.
If fact, imagine you have this choice: Tomorrow you’re either going to win the lottery, or you’ll be hit by a bus and be paralyzed for the rest of your life.
Which one will make you happier? Easy choice, I know. You want to win the lottery.
Well, you guessed wrong.
Studies have been done on the happiness of these two outcomes. Statistically people who experience these two outcomes end up with the same level of happiness, whether or not they were hit by a bus or won the lottery. Shocking!
What this tells me is that we’re all too focused on a future happiness, and ignoring the fact that we’re going to be the same amount of happy in the future as we are now.
Why don’t we appreciate what we have now? Stop futuresensing, start enjoying this moment.
We can’t futuresense most outcomes.
Then there is the fact that of all the possible outcomes that you’ve been futuresensing, the chances of anything close to what you futuresense coming true are slim.
Many of us sit for endless hours pondering outcomes. ‘Well if I do this, x will happen and it’ll be a disaster.’
How many times has your futuresense told you that everything was going to be a big mess, and it wasn’t? Probably most of the time. The world isn’t really that scary a place, but your futuresense still thinks there are sabertooth tigers.
You can’t anticipate the future.
So we spend hours upon hours ‘making plans’ before we do anything. If what I’m telling you about the inaccuracies of our futuresense is true, then making plans is about the most absurd thing you can do.
By making a plan, you’re just sitting around contemplating a future that isn’t going to happen. Your end product is zero. This doesn’t mean you can’t have objectives, priorities, goals.
I’m just saying that playing out the final act in your head before you start working is a waste of time, and yet we spend so much time doing it.
Nothing actually happens until you take an action and do something.
You can’t futuresense outcomes at all, you can only waste your time. It’s the least minimalist emotion.
You have the power to decide to opt out of using your pre-frontal cortex before you do every little thing. This is not easy, but it helps once you recognize what you’re doing. You’re working yourself up into a big old panic attack over 75 futures that won’t happen.
Turn it off, start living your life.