Where do you see yourself in ten years?

For many of us, this question inspires images of a newer, more improved version of ourselves. We may envision achieving our financial goals, improving our health, or connecting with new friends and romantic partners who change our lives for the better.

Western culture places a high value on goal-setting and self-improvement as the keys to happiness, fulfillment, and success. But, research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) recently revealed that this mindset may not be as productive as we once believed.

In fact, according to the study’s author, Joseph Reiff, envisioning your present self as your best future self may actually be the key to greater happiness later on in life.

Western culture places a high value on goal-setting and self-improvement as the keys to happiness, fulfillment, and success. But, research from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) recently revealed that this mindset may not be as productive as we once believed.

According to the study’s author, Joseph Reiff, envisioning your present self as your best future self may actually be the key to greater happiness later on in life.

Reiff and his colleagues came to this conclusion by conducting an initial survey that asked participants to predict how satisfied they believed they would be with their lives in ten years. Then, ten years later, the same participants were asked to report on the accuracy of their previous predictions.

Surprisingly, those who envisioned their lives changing significantly over the ten-year period, whether for better or worse, reported being less satisfied with their lives. On the other hand, those who perceive more similarity between their present and future selves reported increased happiness and overall life satisfaction.

While reading this study, I couldn’t help but think about the concept of mindfulness as it relates to emotional well-being. Several studies have found a link to living mindfully and increased personal happiness.

Is Staying Present the Key to Life Satisfaction?

Mindfulness, or the act of staying present (rather than living in the past or future), has been scientifically proven to improve emotional wellness and reduce the symptoms of conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression.

Practicing mindfulness improves your overall emotional resilience and makes it easier to live through the present moment without judgment or disruptive emotional reactions.

According to Harvard researcher Matt Killingsworth, there is a direct correlation between personal satisfaction and mindfulness. Through his research, he found that those who allow their minds to wander mindlessly experience more unhappiness, whether they’re thinking positive or negative thoughts. He also theorizes that people are happier when they are fully immersed in the present moment no matter what they are doing.

So,  it’s possible that participants from the UCLA study who reported being satisfied with their lives after ten years had a more mindful mindset than those who predicted change.

These participants may have set actionable goals for themselves during those ten years, but they most likely did not stake their overall happiness on the achievement of their goals. Intentionally practicing mindfulness allows you to experience happiness in the present moment regardless of your circumstances.

By implementing the practice of mindfulness in your present everyday life, you can begin living a happier and more satisfying life today. If you commit to this practice throughout your life, you’ll likely remain at peace as you journey mindfully toward your future.

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