This might be a downer for a Friday, but let's try it. I'm a fan of The School of Life (check out Philippa Perry's How to Stay Sane from their book series) and when I came across their recent video "Envy of the Future," I was immediately intrigued. But then, I got sad. Real sad.
This quick four-minute video explores our feelings about the future and why some of us might be very down about its possibilities. Our culture often promotes negative futures – flooded cities, energy crises, robotic overlords – over positive futures. And, for many of us, when we are confronted with a positive vision of the future (or even the present), we explain away why that vision can’t possibly happen because of all of the challenges that stand in the way of our attainment of it.
Could it be that some of this negativity is the result of an envy for what the future might hold? Do positive visions of the future make us feel embarrassed by the current problems that are holding us back? Are we resentful of the future and all of the things we are missing out on?
I’ll admit that I’m often guilty of explaining away the reasons potential futures can’t happen – time, resources, skills, partners. Are these explanations an attempt to seem intelligent and logical when really I’m frustrated by and envious of what could be instead of what is? Is part of my explaining an attempt to earn some compassion and pity for myself against the future?
Yes, this video is a downer. But it can also be a wake-up call.
We are human and subject to human emotions, including envy.
It’s easy to feel down about the future if we see ourselves in competition with the future. But what if we changed our perspective? Instead of competing with the future, what if we saw ourselves as partners in the future? Let’s look at the future positively – and realize that the future will be better than today because we will make it a better place. Maybe the best way to transform our envy into confidence is to see ourselves as part of the process toward a better future.