The Rational Reminder Podcast podcast

Episode 256: Prof. Hal Hershfield: Your Future Self

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How does the connection we have with our future self impact the decisions we make today? And what active steps can we take to improve our connection with our future selves? Today on the show we welcome back Hal Hershfield, whose new book Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today delves into the science of our relationship with our future selves and what we can do to change it for the better. In our conversation with Hal, we discuss the concept of the self, how we change over time, and why so many of us feel disconnected from our future selves. He describes the research surrounding these subjects and their findings, including how the brain scans they performed demonstrate that we mostly see our future selves as strangers, and why this is caused, at least in part, by the fact that our future selves don’t technically exist yet. We also discuss the interventions that have been shown to improve our relationship with our future selves, like viewing age-progressed images or exchanging letters with our future selves, and why everyone responds to these interventions differently. Having a strong connection with your future self has many benefits. It means you’re more likely to make decisions that will serve you later in life, like saving for retirement, eating healthily, and exercising regularly. But Hal also warns that we risk losing sight of the present and what truly matters when we focus solely on the future. To hear all of Hal’s knowledgeable insights on this topic and what he wants to explore next, be sure to tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Defining the self and how our identity shifts depending on age, context, and the people we surround ourselves with. (0:04:08)

  • An overview of Hal’s research and what it reveals about how most people connect (or don’t connect) to their future selves. (0:08:29)

  • How empathy can influence our connection to our future selves. (0:11:36)

  • Insights into why we tend to think of our future self the same way we think about strangers or

    acquaintances. (0:14:19)

  • Our level of connection to our future self and how it affects wealth accumulation and financial

    well-being. (0:17:53)

  • The definition of ‘present bias’ and ‘hyperbolic discounting’ and the role they play in decisions

    about the future. (0:19:28)

  • The end-of-history illusion and the impact it has on our decisions. (0:23:02)

  • How viewing age-progressed images of yourself can help you build a connection with your

    future self. (0:26:35)

  • The research Hal is conducting with MIT Media Lab using an AI chatbot called Future You.


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RRP 256 Show Notes

  • Dan Pink’s work on the power of regret and how it overlaps with Hal’s research and findings. (0:31:59)

  • The findings on being presented with age-progressed images of ourselves and how they impact our decision-making and relationship with our future selves. (0:35:20)

  • How writing to your future self can improve your decisions. (0:40:16)

  • The problems that arise when we become too focused on improving life for our future self and

    how to find harmony between the present and future. (0:44:03)

  • The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our collective relationship with the future.


  • Learn about the live episode we’ll be recording at the upcoming Future Proof conference with Hal as our guest. (0:51:24)


Links From Today’s Episode:

Hal Hershfield —
Hal Hershfield on Twitter —
Hal Hershfield on LinkedIn —
Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today — yourfutureself
Episode 141: Hal Hershfield: The Psychology of Long-term Decision Making — https://
The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward — Power-Regret-Looking-Backward-Forward/
Episode 246: Daniel H. Pink: How to Use Regret — Future Proof Festival —
Brian Knutson —
Dan Martell —
Derek Parfit —
Daniel Gilbert —
Merrill Lynch —
Shlomo Benartzi —
Stephen Shu —
Rational Reminder on iTunes — podcast/id1426530582. 

Rational Reminder Website —
Rational Reminder on Instagram —
Rational Reminder on YouTube —
Rational Reminder Email — [email protected]
Benjamin Felix —
Benjamin on Twitter —
Benjamin on LinkedIn —
Cameron Passmore —
Cameron on Twitter —
Cameron on LinkedIn —

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