Why Thinking About the Future Makes Today Easier

Posted on March 30, 2015

Photo: flickr

In our current high stress culture, many people are unable to achieve successful coping mechanisms. Perhaps, thinking about the future might tame our stress levels? Resilience has been a recurring question.

This question was explored in a paper in the February, 2015 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (link is external) by Emma Bruehlman-Senecal and Ozlem Ayduk.

They studied people’s ability to travel mentally through time. Thinking about the distant future can help people get beyond recent events that are causing stress. In particular, this longer time-perspective helps people to recognize that most events in life are not that important. As a result, while they may be stressful in the short-term, they will not have long-term consequences. Recognizing that events have their impact mostly in the short-term can make even their short-term impact less severe.

The results suggest that thinking about the future helps to give us different views on the negative events in our life. When something happens unexpectedly, it is tempting to repetitively probe over the details of what went wrong. High levels of stress are not helpful for getting work done in the future, though. So, it can indeed be valuable to think ahead, and be more resilient.

For more information about the study, click the link

Category(s):Stress Management

Source material from Psychology Today