The Benefits of Seeing Your Old + Gray Self

Who doesn’t love a good gimmick? Especially when a gimmick involves taking a photo of yourself, letting technology do mysterious/ sinister things in the bowels of an app, and TURNING YOU INTO AN OLD BAG.

Check it out!

Jodi Wellman at 70

Why sunscreen might be a good idea?


I’d like to introduce you to moi, at the age of 70. She looks eerily similar to me-at-almost-50, and while I’m alarmed that she hasn’t changed her hair in two decades, we’ll let that slide. (I’ve never been a trendsetter.) But look! She’s wrinklier and grayer and something’s going on with her lips and gumline that I don’t understand, but wow! She’s mature. She has seen the future and this bitch knows shit.

And here is where we transition from gimmick to good old-fashioned science …

Seeing our future selves can be motivating

Hal Hershfield tells us in Your Future Self: How to Make Tomorrow Better Today about how valuable these age-progressed images can be. Here’s a snippet of his research notes:

… Half [of a study group] were shown [images of] their present self, and half were shown their aged, future self. Afterward, we had them fill out surveys. Those who confronted their future selves ended up putting more money into a hypothetical savings account than those who did not … Grayer hair, wrinklier skin, and age spots again won the day: those who saw their future selves put aside a significantly higher portion of their income toward retirement (about 6 percent of their paychecks) than the people who simply saw their present selves (who set aside about 2 percent of their wages).

Hershfield also cites research where “adults who ‘met’ their future selves via age-progressed images subsequently reported exercising more compared to adults who had not snuck a peek at the wrinkled future face.”

Seeing one’s old-ified (my word, not his) face led research study participants to make more ethical decisions when faced with chances to cheat in games.

So peeking at our wise, old selves through the crystal ball of an app makes us even more responsible today. That doesn’t sound like a bad deal, does it?

The memento mori connection

Seeing ourselves age can be startling. Contemplating our inevitable demise can also be unsettling. And you know what? It’s also incredibly helpful. By practicing memento mori (the age-old practice that translates to “remember we must die”), we have a chance to steer our todays into better tomorrows.

Are you willing to peek at your age-progressed face? I dare you to do it. You have so very much to gain … maybe even a few bucks towards your retirement (!). But you don’t need a fancy app; maybe you just need 30 minutes with a cup of coffee/ dirty martini to reflect on your finitude. Count your Mondays. Get in touch with how much time you have left and watch how quickly you prioritize what matters (and what doesn’t). (Apparently our hairstyles don’t matter much.)

Jodi Wellman

P.S.: You know about my book that just came out, right?! You Only Die Once: How to Make It to the End with No Regrets is waiting to be ordered by you!

P.P.S.: Let’s do Instagram together.

P.P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!


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