Is Your Future Making You Miserable?

We live in bipolar times.

The most popular, modern life philosophy is to “live in the moment”.

But, if everyone only lives for The Now, we won’t have bridges, churches, roads, airplanes, satellites, running water or flushing toilets.

Ironically, this “in the moment” philosophy is only possible because our ancestors spent thousands of years not doing so.

When you have to chop wood and harvest crops to survive the coming winter, living for the moment is not a very sustainable life strategy.

For us, almost all physical struggle for life has been eliminated. We’re free to pursue our impulses from moment to moment, for better or worse.

What happens in an age where planning for a future is unnecessary for survival? You still have the instinct to prepare, but there’s not much to prepare for.

When survival is not at stake, these choices can easily become arbitrary and disconnected from reality.

We make grand plans to collect thousands of stamps or make apps with the idea that somehow this will make our lives Better. At best, you’re just upgrading your problems.

To borrow from Schopenhauer, this leads to society-wide schizophrenia.

The series of moments which make up our lives are spent either dreaming of an actually-only-marginally-better future or in nostalgia for a simpler past…which in reality we also spent thinking about another version of the future.

In our age of plenty, is the future-planning instinct at risk of becoming a useless genetic relic of bygone times? Is planning and goal-setting the new human tailbone?

Heck if I know.

This is what you think about when there is no wood to chop for winter. I think I’ll go watch a cat video now.