Making Friends with the Future
Excerpt from 'The Future is X', the new book by Mal Fletcher
There are scientific studies conducted on all kinds of subjects these days. It's almost as if researchers have too much spare time on their hands.
One recent study delved into why some people seem to have more good fortune in life than others. Why do some people, it asked, seem luckier than others? Some of the results were predictable and have more to do with human attitudes than with any evidence of favourable fates. Yet they are instructive, especially for people who aspire to exercising influence. They offer real insight into what it takes to become a person who naturally attracts the interest, respect and trust of others.
A series of 'experiments' showed that people who seem to attract good fortune are more likely to expect a positive outcome in life, even when things don't work out in the short term.
Life is filled with wildly unpredictable events, but some people expect that life's most challenging and unforeseen events will work for them rather than against them. It hardly needs to be said that some other people expect to live under a perpetual cloud, even if something good is happening right now.
When bad things happen to positive people, they expect them to be short-lived and to work for them in the end. When good things happen to negative people, they expect them to the short-lived and to work against them in the end.
To become a person of influence, you must develop a positive expectation about your future. Gen-Xers are more likely to see a positive outcome for their individual future than for that of their generation as a whole. Millennials have less trouble seeing positives on the horizon for both.
Expectation Not Experience
To become a person of influence in your generation, you need to focus your mind on future expectations more than past experiences. You must let your future and not your present or past determine who you are. If your present determines your view of the future, expectations will eventually turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.
The British Medical Journal published an interesting finding a few years back. Researchers in the US discovered that Chinese and Japanese Americans had a seven percent greater death rate from chronic heart disease on the fourth day of every month. No similar peak could be found among white Americans. Looking at all the possible contributing factors, doctors found no physical cause; the only possible explanation, they said, had to be psychological.
On further study, they noted that for many Chinese and Japanese people, the number four is considered unlucky. Doctors could only assume that the anxiety levels of patients from these ethnic groups might increase on the fourth day of the month, because they were expecting something bad to happen. If they're already suffering from heart disease, this may make them more susceptible to coronary failure. Their negative expectation often became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When you look forward, you speak God's language. According to the Bible, God works by faith, relates through love and plans with hope. Every one of these attributes looks not to the stagnant past, but to the dynamic future.
Faith looks forward. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, 'faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.' Faith is not 'being certain of what we've already seen.'
Hope also looks forward. Romans 8:25 says: 'we hope for what we do not yet have, [and] wait for it patiently.' We do not hope for what we already have.
Divine love also has a forward-looking perspective. 1 Corinthians 13:7 teaches that God's love 'believes all things, [and] hopes all things'. It does not say that love 'remembers all things'.
God is omniscient and omnipresent and is not limited by time and space. For him, everything exists in the eternal present. But when we think and behave in a future-minded way, we are aligning ourselves with his core values: faith, hope and love. We are making it possible for God to work with us, because we're on his wavelength.
© Mal Fletcher 2005
This article is an excerpt from Mal Fletcher's new book The Future is X. You can purchase and download your e-Book copy right now and be one of the first to read this insightful and entertaining new book!
The paperback version will be released at the end of July 2005.