Train Your Brain for the Future

Jane McGonigal is a forecaster who runs simulations that help people imagine what the future will be like. When you picture a potential threat in your mind’s eye, you can learn how to deal with it better when and if it arises. Today’s Instaread, Imaginable, will help you become more agile and resilient—and could even save your life! 

Weird Thought ExperimentImagine that the government announced that garbage will soon be illegal. Only composting will be allowed. All landfills will shut down, and the president will declare a national emergency. Trash cans are removed from homes and public spaces. You are now responsible for all of your waste. You have to pay a huge fine for each small bag of trash you want to get rid of. If you want to buy coffee in a disposable cup, it is now $22 instead of $2 for a reusable cup. 

This could soon become a real scenario; with the way things are going, we will have to radically change how we deal with waste. A lot of people already try their best to live waste-free, and we all might soon have to live this way. With this small thought experiment, you are automatically more prepared.

Platform Panic

A future scenario is a detailed description of the future you may encounter. You can start by vividly imagining your day in one of these scenarios, no matter how strange or unlikely they may seem to you. Explore the scenario from your unique point of view, being realistic about how you would act or feel. 

Future scenarios are important because they allow you to imagine the future without the safety of already established facts. They lay out the basic rules of the future for you to imagine the rest. In these exercises it is important to always stay open-minded. This will help you imagine the future better.

About the Author

McGonigal is director of Game Research and Development at the Institute for the Future think tank. She advocates for using technology and games to channel positivity, specializing in alternate reality games. She invented the game SuperBetter, which has helped more than a million players get over real-life health challenges. She has taught game design and theory at the University of California, Berkeley and the San Francisco Art Institute.

Read our full summary of Imaginable. . .

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