Sunday, May 31, 2009

Polls Archive 40 - Now vs. the Future

A direct link to the above video is at

Poll 40: "People who focus on the "now" rather than their possible future paths are more likely to be moody, indecisive, and envious." Poll ended May 26 2009. 45% agreed while the majority disagreed.

A number of visitors to the blog had some trouble accepting this supposition, which relates to a specific entry I published last month called "The Time Paradox". In it, I talked about a book of the same name by Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University. In a promotional video for his book he tells us that tests given to children showed a clear link years later to which of them were more successful and well-adjusted as they entered adulthood: four-year-olds were offered the choice of a marshmallow right now, or two marshmallows if they were willing to wait for twenty minutes. Those children who jumped at the single marshmallow rather than thinking about the greater future reward coming if they would wait, to use Dr. Zimbardo's words, grew into young adults who were more likely to be "moody, indecisive, and envious". Those who did wait went on as adolescents to score an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and to be much more likely to be rated by independent examiners as "competent" or "attentive", while those who were not able to delay gratification were more likely to be described as "sulky" or "irritable".

As I mentioned in my previous blog about the Time Paradox, the difficulty some people have in accepting these results may be connected to the current popularity of Ekhart Tolle's writing: The Power of Now, he tells us, is better than the ego-based striving for tomorrow and fretting about the past. Sometimes, though, living in the Now is living in a trap of endlessly repeating negative patterns, and that is not the way to make your life better. Who would disagree that "attitude affects outcome"? What psychiatrist would disagree that healing can't really start until it comes from within? What entrepeneur would disagree that "the eye of the tiger" is how you get to the future version of yourself that you hold as your heart's desire? What athlete would disagree with the power of positive visualization techniques? What health care provider has not seen people who lose their interest in tomorrow, their will to carry on, and death follows?

All of these are related to the processes of engaging not just in the "now", but in the branching future paths that exist as potential for each of us. In The Placebo Effect I talked about the surprising results of medical studies showing how difficult it can be to test new drugs when patients given placebos will also do better because of their assumption that they are being given some new treatment. In Changing Your Genes Part 2 I talked about the amazing new science of epigenetics, which proves that people can actually change their own gene expression through changes in lifestyle and attitude. And in Creativity and the Quantum Universe, I talked about how this "engaging in the future paths" concept has been proved to be basic to our universe and to the basic structures of all living things.

And where are all these future paths that hold this amazing promise, these powerful tools that people around the world are using to moving beyond a "now" that is not to their liking and to a possible "then" that exists within their set of all possible future states? According to my way of visualizing, this is all within the fifth dimension, within a probability space that connects to Everett's Many Worlds and the hidden patterns of the universe, and which each of us are navigating within one planck after another right at this very "now".

Welcome to a better future you. And enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

Next: A compilation of Polls 31 to 40


El Besino Dave said...

Your reference to Tolle's "now": "Sometimes, though, living in the Now is living in a trap of endlessly repeating negative patterns, and that is not the way to make your life better" This is a misunderstanding of the "now" as Tolle means it. The "now" is not some consciously selected moment of time into which one finds himself, nor is it "a way" that allows one to consciously "make" one's life better. Rather, the Now is the TIMELESSNESS of BEING, the CONSCIOUSNESS of BEING AWARE of the essence of the SINGLENESS of life. Being "trapped" by endlessly repeating "patterns" is what one is freed from when one is in that Now and not stuck in the illusion of Time. The past and the future are merely useful, convenient methods used by human beings to operate in our current understanding of 3 dimensional awareness. Ego controls in typical lives; in the Now, Ego is subservient to the I-AM-ness of the essence of Timelessness, which has also been called "eternity".

Apocalypso Facto said...

I guess the wording of the poll affected the perception of the people regarding the actual meaning of the question. To me, it sounds as if it's giving a particularly negative connotation to the "Now".

I'd think of "moody, indecisive and envious" people as people who focus on the "past" instead.

The "future" is potential, right? We should project ourselves into it, and since the "past" doesn't "exist", the "now" is all we have, don't we?

Hopefully, this makes some sense!

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