Mental time travel is a great decision-making tool — this is how to use it - Deepstash
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Mental Time Travel

Mental Time Travel

When the future seems largely unpredictable, is there anything you can do to prepare for it?

All you need to do is to tap into your imagination and envision all your potential futures - using "futures thinking."

Futures thinking is an incredibly useful, practical tool to prepare your mind to adapt faster to new challenges, build hope and resilience, reduce anxiety and depression, and inspire you to take actions today that set yourself up for future happiness and success.

Make intentional choices about what you want to imagine in your future - you have to fill in the blanks.

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Episodic Future Thinking: Imagine

Episodic Future Thinking: Imagine

“Episodic future thinking” or EFT is often described as “mental time travel” — your brain is working to help you see and feel the future as clearly and vividly as if you were already there.

If you’re having difficulty imagining life 10 years from now, write down a description of what you imagine. It can be easier to think about the future with words rather than with mental images.

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Making Sense

Making Sense

There are three major kinds of sense-making that happen when you engage in mental time travel to your future:

  •  First, your brain has to do what cognitive scientists call “scene construction” — mentally building the future world. 
  • After scene construction, your brain starts to do what cognitive scientists call “opportunity detection.” Here, you look for ways to fulfil your needs and achieve your goals.
  • Finally, as your brain works to transport you to the future, feelings will kick in.

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The 10 Year Challenge

The 10 Year Challenge

You’ve never been 10 years older than you are now, so your brain doesn’t know what to expect if you try to imagine. Plus, there’s so much opportunity for things to change in a decade — your body, relationships, life circumstances, physical environment.

Your brain intuitively grasps this unknowability, so instead of confidently projecting one possibility, it opens up a blank space for you to consider multiple possibilities. You have to start making intentional choices about what you want to imagine in your future — you have to fill in the blanks.

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The Punchline: Those Feelings Are Real

The Punchline: Those Feelings Are Real

Crucially, these are real feelings. Studies show that the emotions you experience during EFT can be just as psychologically powerful as emotions experienced in the present. This is one reason why many of us prefer to imagine best-case-scenario futures and avoid imagining the futures that scare us.

But there are real benefits to intentionally and carefully imagining futures that frighten you. This can help you do the important work of getting ready for anything — even things you’d rather not think about, let alone actually experience, someday.

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CURATED BY

josepca

Doctor general practice

CURATOR'S NOTE

Imagine and construct your own reality.

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