past-now-futureYesterday I conducted a lecture on The Science of Intentional Trust to around 100 University of Technology Sydney undergraduates studying Collaborative Business Processes. Well, my presentation style doesn’t really equate to the typical lecture, and it was certainly a surprise approach for many of the 2nd year Information/Business degree students.

One of the key areas I focused on was the need for our future-self to be able to trust our current-self to make wise decisions.

It’s relatively easy for me after 55 years on this earth to be able to reflect back on my past-self and realise that many of the decisions I have made (mostly positive, and some not so wise) have culminated in me being able to live this happy, flourishing and meaningful life that I do.

But as I was writing and preparing for this presentation for the undergraduates, I thought that this element of the future-self needing to trust the current-self to make wise decisions may not be so easy to understand for a 20 something student.

I was told once that you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, meaning it’s tough to give youth wisdom, however, based on the positive reaction to this one element of my presentation, I’m fairly confident that the message, at least at the time of the lecture, certainly resonated with the majority in the theatre.

While not an academic study, an article by Belinda Merhab published in The Australian newspaper recently reported about a survey of 2,300 Australians aged 18-65 conducted by RaboBank, which found that “regular savers were twice as likely as non-savers to feel happy, in control of their life, and healthy. They’re also more likely to watch what they eat and exercise regularly.”

This is a great example of how one ‘disciplined positive habit’ in our life can impact our choices to make positive choices about other areas of our life. We become better savers, we make better choices in our health. We make better choices in our health, we make better choices in how we use our time.

Another old adage is “if only I knew then what I know now”… and this is what I see as one of the real benefits of positive psychology. By researching and reporting on the elements that contribute to being able to live a ‘good life’, a happy, flourishing and meaningful life, our future-self can be a bit more confident in our current-self being at least armed with the information that can guide him/her toward making wise decisions.

triangle of three trusts What I’m referring to here is the importance of understanding the impact of self-trust in our life. Self-trust (which is about confidence), trust in others (which is about courage) and others trusting in you (which is about competence), form the triangle of three trusts. Self-trust is the pointy end that everything else depends on.

How proud do you think your future-self will be of the decisions, actions and habits that your current-self is taking action on today in the following areas of your life:

Finances – Are you spending less than you earn? Are you budgeting? Are you saving? Are you investing? Are you seeking professional financial advice?

Health – Is your diet healthy? Are you exercising sufficiently? Are you getting enough sleep?

Relationships – Are you selective of the people you choose to be around? Are you clear about your intentions (what you want for and not just what you want from) the people you impact in your relationships? Are you living up to your intentional promises in the relationships you have?

Work – Are you making the most of the work that you do? Are you finding ways to live more meaningfully through your work? If you were your boss, would you hire you?

Learning – Are you a life-long learner? Do you allocate and utilise time to learn new skills, knowledge or personal, character or spiritual development?

Goals – Are you goal setting or are you just coasting and existing? Are you flourishing in the pursuit of meaningful things and experiences in your life?

These are just some elements that we know from applied positive psychology research are elements of a ‘good life’, a happy, flourishing and meaningful life… and your future-self needs to trust your current-self to making the most of the opportunities that exist right now…

So again, how proud will your future-self be of your current-self?