Unlocking Well-Being through a Positive Future


The Surprising Link Between our Well Being and the Future

Michael Shaun Conaway
Publishing Editor
March 29, 2022

There’s a lot to worry about these days. The continual optimism of capitalism is collapsing, laying bare a world of excessive consumption, pollution, and vast wealth inequalities. We worry about everything that is going on, and about where this is all headed. This worry makes it hard to make sense of the world and make good decisions about our future.

So how do we make sense of the world, ourselves, and how to live and even thrive in such a chaotic and disrupted era?

The renowned hockey player Wayne Gretzky once said, “Skate to where the puck is going to be.” This quote points us in the right direction, towards the future. We can’t win a game by merely looking at what has already happened. And games like hockey, and life, move so fast that the present is past by the time we react. If we aren’t playing the game with foresight, we aren’t likely to win.

Foresight is the ability to simply see the direction of a trend and anticipate the result. If we do this, and the anticipated result is not one we desire, we can take action now to alter what’s possible. However, when we attempt foresight we often end up obsessing over trying to figure out the trends.

In Peter Handke’s 1974 novella “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick”, we are introduced to a character, a soccer goalie, who’s basic connection to reality is torn apart by his obsession of trying to anticipate where the ball is going. Penalty kicks move so fast that if goalies wait until the ball is kicked, they can’t respond fast enough to block the ball. So they study the striker looking for any sign, any tell, of what they are going to do. Then they leap where the ball is going before it goes. Often they dive one way while the ball goes the other.

Handke’s goalie becomes increasingly obsessed with reading the signs of the world around him to try to see what will happen. A hawk in the sky causes him to scan the ground looking for the prey. Reality becomes the medium of signs that the goalie is incapable of reading, leaving him anxious about everything. Handke seems to be prophetic in describing the anxious world in which we live.

Many of us try to read the trends and anticipate the future. There are also many of us who try to avoid looking at the trends because they seem so grim. Either way we often rely on pundits to assess the trends while we try to distract ourselves with 12 hr work days and swiping left / swiping right, scrolling endlessly through our social feed excuse for human connection,

By comparison Handke’s goalie is completely sane. So, how do we become sane about the future?

The first step can be to look at where the current trends are coming from, their context in history, and how they disrupt or maintain the traditional power structures. This work is carried out in a curation of the past where we look back not to remember but to see the patterns. If we look back to see the signs that lead to now — it’s clear how we got to the present moment, afterall hindsight is 20/20.

Now, here comes the radical act. Rather than consider the future as just projecting out the trajectory of the current trends, we can ask: How do we imagine a future that transcends the failures of the past rather than repeats them? The answer to this riddle is that we can create the future from the future: stand in an imagined future and look back to now. If we can imagine a rich and full future, one that is both viable and desirable, we can work to have that new future replace the default future, the one that will happen if we don’t intercede in the direction of the prevailing trends.

Standing in the imagined future we can reverse what Handke’s goalie did and look for the signs, the trends, that validate the trajectory to the new future. Identifying those, we can gather consensus in our communities and take actions aligned with the new future, igniting the trends that make the new future inevitable.

Even if you aren’t aware of it, there is likely a part of your brain that is wondering “What’s in it for me?” Afterall, working for a future takes away from a now where we’re hardly-getting-by. Here’s the irony, the reason we see our lives as hardly-getting-by is our anxiousness about the future. Worry itself takes up an enormous amount of our energy and time. We are hardly-getting-by because the overhead of our worries is so high. Having a desirable and viable future releases us from this worry. Yes, we still see the signs and trends that things aren’t going well in the present, and with the imagined future we also see the signs and trends of things that are going in the right direction.

A practical demonstration of this is to imagine Jorge who is in a relationship with Juanita. In scenario one, Jorge worries that Juanita might leave her for someone else. Every time they are apart he wonders what she is doing and who she is out with. When Juanita comes home from being out she is confronted with a sullen and angry Jorge. She begins to wonder if it’s going to work out with him.

In scenario two, Jorge and Juanita have spent hours imagining their future together. They have made plans and are working to make them real. Jorge encourages Juanita to go out and recharge her energy and he does the same. There is no worry about the relationship because they are creating a future together.

While this is clearly a simple example, you can likely find things in your own life that either flow towards a future or seem to stumble forward with worry and fear. It’s time to stop having anxiety at the penalty kick, searching for signs to predict the future, and rather build a vision of the future, big and small, near term and long term that engages your heart and sets you out on a path of action to bring desirable futures to life.

It’s an illusion that we are the last line of defense against the antagonists of the world, a goalie waiting for the penalty. Rather we are the makers and players of the game, able to see how our play together will add up as a win for humanity, regardless of which way the striker kicks the ball.

In the meantime, we’ll be looking for PROOF of a thriving future for humanity.

The Generative Futurist
Editor PROOF

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Proof 40 – Unlocking Well-Being through a Positive Future

In the News:

PROOF in ACTION – The 5 Ways to Be Well in Time, Past-Present-Future

Everyone knows that it’s a journey to get off the couch and back to peak fitness. Or that it takes time to change your diet for health reasons. We know that learning a language takes time but is rewarding. We know that every change we make starts with a first step in the right direction. Each of these examples illustrates that time is a big part of any change, any transformation in life. The thing is that most of us think of time as being linear. First I was out of shape. Then I worked out. Then I worked out for months. Then I was fit.

Time is not linear. We think back and remember. We envision the future. We plan. We take action. We get feedback. We change the plan, change the destination. Take more steps. Fail to make progress. Start over. And if we keep at it we achieve a result.

So what about our well being?

Could it work in the same pattern? Could we envision it, plan it, and execute? If so, then it’s time to get started. And, here’s where to start: Use your imagination.

Imagine what your life would look and feel like with greater well being. What might you be doing? Who would you be with? What would your energy be like? What would your physical and emotional experience be? How would it feel?

The point here is not to plan, not to try and get it right, not to figure out what you are going to do and not do. The point is to simply imagine and allow yourself to enjoy the imagining.

While this is simple in principle, it can be difficult in practice. When we attempt to imagine a desirable future that is a stretch beyond our current reality, we often think of all the reasons why that can’t happen. If such thoughts kick in for you, acknowledge them, take a breath, and set them aside. Then go back to imagining that wonderful future.

Once you have imagined such a desirable future, here are 5 steps that can supercharge your bringing that future into reality

  1. Determine what wellness is for you. Some of us need 9 hrs of sleep, others are fine with 7. Some of us do well with a vegetarian diet, others need more protein or fat. Some of us thrive around people 24/7 others are more like 1hr in 7 days. Discover what makes you feel good, what brings you joy.
  2. Look to your past for evidence of what works and what clearly doesn’t work. If you are trying out something new, look back and see if you can find times that the new thing worked in the past. Or maybe you are trying something you were averse to in the past. Look back and see if there is a positive memory of that thing in your past, something you forgot until you started looking.
  3. Standing in the imagined future, imagine the things you stopped doing to live this life of well being and the new things you are able to do with ease.
  4. Share this vision, both what it looks like and what it feels like, with everyone around you. If you want to walk in nature more, ask friends out for hikes instead of coffee. Tell them that you are changing habits so that you have more well being in your life.
  5. Aim for the zone and do things that bring about wellness everyday. When you get too busy and forget to take actions of well being, have compassion for yourself and forgive yourself. Just plan the next time you are going to do your thing. Being in the zone more often than not means that your new habit of well being is becoming reliable.

Lastly, and this goes for anything you are wanting to happen in the future, keep imagining, keep going, keep refining and most importantly do things that align with your vision every day.

May this information inspire you to generate a thriving future for humanity and a thriving life for yourself. For more resources please check out our Podcast and Youtube channel.

-The Bold.ly Now Team

BOLD.LY NOW is a movement of co-creative up-levelers who have a burning desire to step free of our collapsing world & take the most daring leap forward to a thriving world.

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PROOF is a Generative Futures Initiative Project

The Generative Futures Initiative
Generating a Thriving Future for All

PROOF is a digital magazine published by Bold.ly NOW and the Generative Futures Initiative.  The mission of the magazine is to shine a light on people, organisations and ideas that stand as Proof of a Thriving Future.