Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Imagine a Richer Future

I’ve always believed in the power of the imagination. It’s a skill – not some vague daydream – and one that you can practice in the present that can pay dividends in the future. Now research shows that imagination can actually help people save money. Joe Kable a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania recently ran a study that uncovered that people whose brains showed greater activity while imagining the future also make better financial decisions.

Kable asked subjects if they would rather have an immediate reward, or a greater reward in the future. Those with greater activity in the part of the brain that houses imagination chose the latter. Kable believes that his findings can help people make better choices about money by triggering people’s imagination to think about delayed gratification and greater rewards.

This thinking contrasts positively with the ‘Age of Now’ framing in my speeches. For sure we live in the Age of Now – it is an accurate description and has compelling attributes though continuous gratification is not one of them. Sustainability is premised on the idea of a better future – and according to the UN’s Helen Clark, we are living as if we have four planets. Time for some active imagining.

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