What advice would you give your younger self? This is the first study to ever examine it.
A new study shows that most people have advice for their younger self that tends towards a few important areas.
- A new study asked hundreds of participants what advice they would give their younger selves if they could.
- The subject matter tended to cluster around familiar areas of regret.
- The test subjects reported that they did start following their own advice later in life, and that it changed them for the better.
Everybody regrets something; it seems to be part of the human condition. Ideas and choices that sounded good at the time can look terrible in retrospect. Almost everybody has a few words of advice for their younger selves they wish they could give.
Despite this, there has never been a serious study into what advice people would give their younger selves. Well, until now.
Let me give me a good piece of advice
The study, which was conducted by Robin Kowalski and Annie McCord at Clemson University and published in The Journal of Social Psychology, asked several hundred volunteers, all of whom were over the age of 30, to answer a series of questions about themselves. One of the questions asked them what advice they would give their younger selves. Their answers give us a look into what areas of life everybody wishes they could have done better in.
Previous studies have shown that regrets tend to fall into six general categories. The answers on this test can be similarly organized into five groups:
- Money (Save more money, younger me!)
- Relationships (Don't marry that money grabber! Find a nice guy to settle down with.)
- Education (Finish school. Don't study business because people tell you to, you'll hate it.)
- A sense of self (Do what you want to do. Never mind what others think.)
- Life goals (Never give up. Set goals. Travel more.)
These pieces of advice were well represented in the survey. Scrolling through them, most of the advice people would give themselves verges on the cliché in these areas. It is only the occasional weight of experience seeping through advice that can otherwise be summed up as "don't smoke," "don't waste your money," or "do what you love," that even makes it readable.
A few bits of excellent counsel do manage to slip through, though. Some of the better ones included:
- "Money is a social trap."
- "What you do twice becomes a habit; be careful of what habits you form."
- "I would say do not ever base any decisions on fear."
The study also asked if the participants have started following the advice they wish they could have given themselves. About 65 percent of them said "yes" and that doing so had helped them become the person they want to be rather than what society tells them they should be. Perhaps it isn't too late for everybody to start taking their own advice.
Kowalski and McCord write:
"The results of the current studies suggest that, rather than just writing to Dear Abby, we should consult ourselves for advice we would offer to our younger selves. The data indicate that there is much to be learned that can facilitate well-being and bring us more in line with the person that we would like to be should we follow that advice."
- Career Advice to Generations Young and Old: Learn to Work Together ›
- Henry Rollins' Letters to a Young American: Do it Yourself - Big Think ›
Setting a simple intention and coming prepared can help you — and those around you — win big.
- Setting an intention doesn't have to be complicated, and it can make a great difference when you're hoping for a specific outcome.
- When comedian Pete Holmes is preparing to record an episode of his podcast, "You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes," he takes 15 seconds to check in with himself. This way, he's primed with his own material and can help guests feel safe and comfortable to share theirs, as well.
- Taking time to visualize your goal for whatever you've set out to do can help you, your colleagues, and your projects succeed.
Some games are just for fun, others are for thought provoking statements on life, the universe, and everything.
- Video games are often dismissed as fun distractions, but some of them dive into deep issues.
- Through their interactive play elements, these games approach big issues intelligently and leave you both entertained and enlightened.
- These five games are certainly not the only games that cover these topics or do so well, but are a great starting point for somebody who wants to play something thought provoking.
How do we combat the roots of these hateful forces?
- American Psychological Association sees a dubious and weak link between mental illness and mass shootings.
- Center for the study of Hate and Extremism has found preliminary evidence that political discourse is tied to hate crimes.
- Access to guns and violent history is still the number one statistically significant figure that predicts gun violence.