What Advice Would You Give Your Past Self?

Imagine you could communicate with a younger version of yourself. What age would you choose, and what advice would you give you past self?

After dealing with the pandemic for nearly a year, it might be tempting to give a little heads up to yourself as you are going in to lockdown. Would you suggest stocking up on toilet paper? Get used to wearing a mask? Hug your loved ones while you can?

On the other hand, an older, and presumably wiser, you might talk to  a teenage version of yourself. Would you suggest learning a particular skill? Maybe having a certain experience? Or perhaps avoiding a certain experience?

Alternately, you might have something to say to you as you enter the workforce. Or some advice on your wedding day. Or when your child is about to be born.

What age would you choose, and what would you say?

Finally, is there anything that your present self can learn from what you would like to tell your younger self?

Related questions: What was the best time in your life? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned? Past, present, or future? What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

What Are The Best Things That Happened To You In 2020?

Can you recognize the good things that happened to you in a bad year? Being grateful for what you have can save you from despair.

The year 2020 has been bad in a number of ways. Our natural world was devastated by disasters like wildfires or hurricanes. Racial unrest led to protests, which spawned riots. A contentious political season saw election results questioned, and as a result our very democracy trembled.

Oh yes, and a pandemic swept across the globe, infecting tens of millions and killing well over a million people worldwide. Reactions to this ravaged our economy and changed life as we know it.

And yet, even in the worst circumstances, good things happen. They may be small, or fleeting, or personal. But these good things happen, and recognizing the good things that occur can give us hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.

So at the end of the year, what are some of the good things that happened to you? It is likely that you can point out dozens of ways that your life has been impacted for the worse. But can you think of ways it has gotten better?

What is the best thing that happened to you in 2020?

Related questions: Are there unexpected benefits to what we are going through? What are you grateful for? What are you optimistic about? Why should we be hopeful?

 

Will The Future Be Better Than The Present?

Occasionally, it seems like progress is presented as inevitable. The present is better than the past, and the future will be better still. But is that actually true? Will our future be better than today?

There is no doubt that we face many problems in the present day that threaten our future. From climate change, to pollution, to overpopulation, to species extinction, and on and on.

And yet, there is still hope that, even if we can’t definitively solve these problems, at least we’ll make a start. Extrapolating the advances in science and technology over the last hundred to two hundred years provides some hope.

Carbon capture may reduce the level of greenhouse gases. At the same time, cold fusion could solve the problem of plenty of cheap, clean energy being generated, enough for the world’s population.

It goes beyond science and technology. Over the last hundred years, there have been few investments more reliable than the stock market. Yes, there have been notable crashes, but the overall trend line is up. Similarly, real estate prices have been good investments historically (at least since real estate has become a thing). Why wouldn’t these areas continue going up in the days ahead?

We are also making consistent progress in other areas. Slavery was legal throughout the world just two hundred years ago. Global poverty is declining (or at least it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic). Why shouldn’t we see a future with fewer human rights violations, and more protection for minorities and those at risk?

But we have seen stretches in history where progress has stagnated or even reversed. Is a future where that comes to pass just as likely?

What do you think? Will our lives continue to improve in the future, or is society about to crash? Or somewhere in between?

Related questions: Is life today better than in the past? What do we owe the future? How do you plan for the future? Past, present, or future? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?

 

Is Life Today Better Than In The Past?

If you were able to accurately evaluate life today against life one hundred years ago, one thousand years ago, or even 10 thousand years ago, would we be able to determine which is better?

Humans have a tendency to overvalue what they know. We find it easy to believe that our country is the best. Or that our mother’s cooking can’t be beat. The neighborhood we grew up in was better than any other.

Similarly, we may believe that life today is better than the way people lived in centuries past. But is that actually true?

It is certainly true that our mastery of travel makes just about every corner of the globe is accessible. I can pack a bag, catch a flight, and be halfway around the world within 24 hours. (Assuming, of course, no travel restrictions.)

A trip to an average grocery store yields a remarkable variety of produce, and an almost dizzying array of processed food. The internet makes access to information nearly ubiquitous, and allows us to communicate with people without thought to geographical limitations. Lifespans are longer, literacy rates are higher, some previously deadly diseases have been all but eliminated.

However, each of these things have downsides. Easy travel is at the expense of burning fossil fuels, which is contributing to climate change. The same can be said about produce that travels thousands of miles to those well-stocked grocery stores. And all that processed food has brought about a crisis in obesity.

While communication is easier with the internet, social media apps are making us more polarized and as such we hear each other less. What good is a longer lifespan if we use those extra hours sitting in traffic jams and overall leading more stressed lifestyles?

Are the negatives worth the positives? Is life today better than in the past?

Related questions: How have we changed? Past, present, or future? Is it fair to judge the past with morals of today? Are we too busy?