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Six Ways to Think Long-term: A Cognitive Toolkit for Good Ancestors

I’ve been deeply interested in long-term actions and my ways are now geared towards focusing on actions that will either have long-term impacts or be a precursor to somethig that can stay for a long-long time.

Reading another interesting article today, struck a cord with me – Six Ways to Think Long-term: A Cognitive Toolkit for Good Ancestors. The article is froom the author of the book, The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long Term in a Short-Term World – a narrative of his experience talking to experts — psychologists, futurists, economists, public officials, investors — who were all convinced of the need for more long-term thinking to overcome the pathological short-termism of the modern world, but few of them could give a clear sense of what it means, how it works, what time horizons are involved and what steps we must take to make it the norm.

Here are the 6 Ways to Think Long-term as discussed in the article;

  1. Deep-Time Humility: grasp we are an eyeblink in cosmic time. Deep-time humility is about recognising that the two hundred thousand years that humankind has graced the earth is a mere eyeblink in the cosmic story. As John McPhee (who coined the concept of deep time in 01980) put it: ‘Consider the earth’s history as the old measure of the English yard, the distance from the king’s nose to the tip of his outstretched hand. One stroke of a nail file on his middle finger erases human history.’
  2. Legacy Mindset: be remembered well by posterity. If we hope to be good ancestors, we need to develop a transcendent ‘legacy mindset’, where we aim to be remembered well by the generations we will never know, by the universal strangers of the future.
  3. Intergenerational Justice: consider the seventh generation ahead. This is not the legacy question of how we will be remembered, but the moral question of what responsibilities we have to the ‘futureholders’ — the generations who will succeed us.
  4. Cathedral thinking: plan projects beyond a human lifetime.
  5. Holistic Forecasting: envision multiple pathways for civilization.
  6. Transcendent Goal: strive for one-planet thriving.