The Psychology of Your Future Self

Photo by Matt Szymkow

At every stage of our lives, we make decisions that we believe will profoundly affect the people we will one day become. In the present moment, while we are busy saving money or eating less saturated fat so we can later retire and live a healthy life, we expect that our future selves will be thankful for our sacrifices. This is true whether it is one minute, one year or one decade from now. But the goals we set are really for our present self rather than our future selves. This “fundamental misconception about the power of time,” as psychologist Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, calls it, can dramatically impact our perception of happiness.

The challenge of satisfying our future selves arises from an “end of history illusion,” a concept that Gilbert described in a 2013 paper in Science. As a result of this misperception, we tend to believe that our present self is the culmination of our personal growth, no matter where we are on our timeline.

This, of course, is not true. Even though right now we may feel that we have peaked in our development, the only thing we can truly be certain of is change, a truth encapsulated by the Buddist concept of impermanence. Finding lasting happiness, then, involves letting go of the belief that you can satisfy your future self in the present. But even more important is understanding that no matter where you are in life, you are still far from a fixed point in time.


“The present is a magic time. It’s a watershed on the timeline. It’s the moment at which we finally become ourselves. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.”

~ Daniel Gilbert, TED Talk: The Psychology of Your Future Self

“Letting come what comes and go what goes. Desire not, fear not, observe the actual, as and when it happens, for you are not what happens, you are to whom it happens.

…The very perception of change – does it not necessitate a changeless background?”

~ Nisargadatta


#63 Ancestral Constellations

Podcast with

Efu discussed her methods integrating ancestral wisdom from her Snail Clan in Tanzania, somatic therapy, and family constellations

Gaza and the Human Soul

Video with ,

Presidential candidate Cornel West and author Gabor Maté met for the first time this week to discuss the horrors of Israel’s war on Gaza.

Healing Trauma Through Collective Meditation

Video with ,

How Buddhist meditation and mindfulness practices, in combination with more traditional forms of therapy, can help to heal individual and collective trauma

Reflection on Current Events

Article by

Weaving the current crisis in Palestine with timeless spiritual wisdom

A Call for Healing: Gabor Maté on Palestine/Israel

Video with ,

Wisdom 2.0 interview with Gabor Maté on Palestine / Israel

You Are Not Broken

Video with

Gail leads a guided meditation grounding into the present with openness and curiosity.

On Israel/Palestine (October 28, 2023)

Video with

Dr. Gabor Maté shares his reflections on Israel/Palestine including recent tragic events on and following October 7th, 2023

An Introduction to the Metacrisis

Video with

Exploring the tangled web of metacrises by the founding member of The Consilience Project

Support SAND with a Donation

Science and Nonduality is a nonprofit organization. Your donation goes directly towards the development of our vision and the growth of our community.
Thank you for your support!