Your Future Self Book Summary - Your Future Self Book explained in key points
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Your Future Self summary

Hal Hershfield

How to Make Tomorrow Better Today

4.3 (508 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Your Future Self by Hal Hershfield explores the concept of how our present decisions affect our future selves. By understanding this connection, we can make better choices that align with our long-term goals and desires.
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    Your Future Self
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    Can we transform our core selves?

    Take a moment to reflect on the tale of Pedro Rodrigues Filho, a man born into brutality, bearing a dented skull from his father's beatings. Rodrigues Filho, who died in 2023, was a serial killer who had murdered 71 people by 1985. Yet his story didn't end in a prison cell. He started working out, learned to read and write, and in 2007, thanks to a legal loophole, walked out of prison a free man. He began waking up at 4 a.m. daily, abstained from drugs and alcohol, shared inspirational stories on YouTube, and counseled young criminals, swearing that he was repulsed by his former self and considering himself reborn. It compels us to ask: Can we fundamentally change who we are?

    Think about your sense of self. Imagine that every cell in your body was replaced over time, but you retained your memories. Would you still be you? What if your mind and memories were replaced by someone else's? How many parts of you need to change before you're considered a new entity?

    Reflect on your own life. Surely, certain traits have persisted since you were a child. However, your experiences have also shaped you, your body has transformed, and even your memories have evolved.

    Philosophy alone can't solve this riddle. The everyday world, as seen in a study by Professor Nina Strohminger, provides a different lens. She asked caregivers of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and ALS whether the people they were caring for still felt the same to them. Interestingly, despite their failing bodies, the ALS patients, with their intact minds, were seen as more “themselves” than the Alzheimer's patients, whose memories were fading. But the real twist came when Strohminger spoke to caregivers of people with frontotemporal dementia, a condition that leaves the body and memories intact but impairs the ability to act morally or ethically. These patients were perceived as the most alien, suggesting that our moral selves could indeed define our true identity.

    So, reflecting on Pedro Rodrigues Filho, did he indeed become a new person? If we consider the concept of an essential moral self, then perhaps he did. But now, let's redirect that spotlight onto ourselves. How do we view our future selves? Will we remain the same or transform into someone new? As we delve further, we'll explore this fascinating aspect of our human existence.

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    What is Your Future Self about?

    Your Future Self (2023) is an illuminating journey through the complex world of decision-making, blending the powerful elements of psychology and economics. Offering a unique lens with which to view our long-term choices, it uncovers how the decisions we make today directly shape our future selves.

    Your Future Self Review

    Your Future Self (2021) by Hal Hershfield explores the fascinating concept of our future selves and why understanding and connecting with them is crucial for personal growth. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers insightful research on how our perception of time affects our decision-making and behavior, providing valuable knowledge for self-improvement.
    • With practical exercises and thought-provoking questions, the book helps readers develop a deeper understanding of their values and goals for a better future.
    • The author's compelling examples and compelling stories bring the concepts to life, making the book an engaging and enjoyable read.

    Who should read Your Future Self?

    • Self-improvement enthusiasts seeking ways to better themselves 
    • Armchair psychologists intrigued by the process of long-term decision-making
    • Philosophers interested in the nature of self, personal identity, and consciousness

    About the Author

    Hal Hershfield, a renowned professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management, works at the crossroads of psychology and economics, using his expertise to enhance long-term decision-making. His influential research and consulting work, ranging from op-eds for leading outlets like the New York Times to advising prestigious firms like Morgan Stanley, have secured his recognition as one of the top business school professors under 40.

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    Your Future Self FAQs 

    What is the main message of Your Future Self?

    The main message of Your Future Self is the power of connecting with our future selves to make better decisions today.

    How long does it take to read Your Future Self?

    The reading time for Your Future Self varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Your Future Self a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Your Future Self is a compelling read that offers insights into the psychology of our future selves, motivating us to take actions aligned with our long-term goals.

    Who is the author of Your Future Self?

    Hal Hershfield is the author of Your Future Self.

    What to read after Your Future Self?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Your Future Self, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Time to Think by Nancy Kline
    • The Comfort Zone by Kristen Butler
    • Happy Mind, Happy Life by Rangan Chatterjee
    • Smart Sex by Emily Morse
    • How to Think Like a Philosopher by Peter Cave
    • Mindful Self-Discipline by Giovanni Dienstmann
    • Capital by Karl Marx
    • All It Takes Is a Goal by Jon Acuff
    • The Worry Trick by David A. Carbonell
    • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels