Monthly Archive 2019-07-21


Past Self Zoom-Out

This Zoom-Out involves stepping back in time and looking forward to the present moment, your current situation, and considering how your past self would see this and what they would say to you. You could also consider this as being in the Self Dimension. It’s up to you how far back in time you go. You may go back to a point in your life that was a milestone, e.g. when leaving school; starting your first job; etc. Of course, your age will influence how much personal history you have.

IN ACTION: Past Self Zoom-Out

  1. Pick a time in the past – a much younger self
  2. Remember what your life was like back then
  3. Imaging seeing yourself as you are now
  4. How would your past self see your current self and situation?
  5. What would you past self say to your current self?
  6. Reflect on this past self perspective and take it onboard

One tendency of human nature is to set goals and then once we have achieved them, we very quickly take the achievement for granted (Hedonic Treadmill). The Past Self Zoom-Out can help us to really appreciate how far we have come and what we have achieved, which is especially useful when we may be feeling down or beating ourselves up about a perceived failure. It can also help us to see the opportunities we have created for ourselves, many of which may be out of sight but there if we look.


How to find gratitude for what you have in any situation

As the title of this Zoom-Out says, things could be infinitely worse. You could not be here at all or never have even existed. The number of potential illnesses is staggering. The number of ways to have an accident, and no fault of your own, is enormous. The sheer number of cataclysms that have occured is beyond count.

This takes some imagination but is a great way of finding gratitude for what you have in any situation or day-to-day.

Stoic Philosophy has the practice of “negative visualisation” in which one imagines negative things that could have happened in order to remind yourself of how lucky you are. That’s very much aligned with the spirit of this Zoom-Out. We often take the good in our lives completely for granted.

In Positive Psychology, cultivating gratitude is considered a powerful, if not the most powerful, wellbeing-boosting skill. I recall many years ago when Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, was providing consultancy to the British Government on how to help the British population be happier. He was interviewed on the BBC’s breakfast show. At the end of the interview, the interviewer, realising that they were almost out of time, asked Seligman what one thing could the people watching do, to boost their happiness?  Seligman replied that they should practice gratitude.

There is also an old saying:

“Happiness is not about getting what you want but wanting what you’ve got”

It’s also in a song:

“It is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
– Sheryl Crow in her song “Soak up the Sun”

Dimension: ODDS

Title image by Alexander Antropov from Pixabay