Volume 1, Number 1September, 2012
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Best Science Fiction Novels
Course on Psychology of the Future
Book Review: The Happiness Project
Book Review: Redirect
Book Review: Imagine
Book Review: Willpower
Center for Future Consciousness Website
Books by Tom Lombardo
Join Our Mailing List
Upcoming Events

"The Psychology of the Future" - A five session new workshop and presentation at Sun City Grand, Chaparral Center, 19781 N. Remington Drive, Surprise, AZ. Dates: Nov. 1, 8, 15, and 29, and Dec. 6 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. 

A New Beginning


Throughout my life I have had the repeated desire to want to make new beginnings. I associate a new beginning with feelings of hope--with a sense of revitalization, transcendence, and new adventures to come. Creating new beginnings, I feel, inspires and empowers me. 


There are other times though when I have found myself having to start over again, a new beginning that is not even of my choosing--a new beginning, whether I like it or not, that seems to be forced on me, often due to some negative and emotionally unsettling event. It feels as if the cosmos kicks me in a new direction, against my desires, plans, and inclinations.


But once in a while, the inner and the outer seem to come into tune, and a life transformation emerges as a confluence and resonance of forces, inside and out. There is no inside and out--it is all a one, a reciprocity of the mind and the world. (Fritjof Capra wrote about such occurrences in his book The Turning Point.) This is what I believe is happening now. 


The Center for Future Consciousness is evolving along multiple dimensions of existence--pulling along all those people, places, and things associated with it on a new trajectory into the future. For one thing, we have a new, vastly improved hosting platform for our publication Futurodyssey: Constant Contact. Further, Futurodyssey, from now on will be coming out monthly. You will find in our new publication: 

  • Monthly Editorials 
  • Reviews of New Books
  • Reviews of Websites 
  • Announcements of Upcoming Educational Events and Presentations  
  • News on Significant Global and National Futures Events
  • News on Significant CFC Events and Initiatives  



But this is just one piece of a bigger Gestalt. Simultaneously, I will be launching a second new newsletter, the Wisdom Page Updates. As I mentioned in a previous Futurodyssey a few months back, I volunteered to take responsibility for managing and directing the late Copthorne Macdonald's The Wisdom Page. His website, in my opinion, is the best resource on the web for reading material and links on wisdom. The transfer of The Wisdom Page to my management is now complete, and continuing the practice of Cop, each month I will be emailing to subscribers The Wisdom Page Updates. This publication will link to new articles and web resources on wisdom, all of which will be added into The Wisdom Page month by month. New articles and links will come from people and organizations from all over the world. Have a look at the site (also in the process of evolution and transformation) and subscribe to the Updates. Submit an essay or news item relevant to wisdom through the site.


In my mind, wisdom and the future form a natural confluence. In fact, for me, wisdom is the highest expression of future consciousness. (See for example "The Wisdom of Future Consciousness"). As I have been reading a variety of recent books in positive psychology (see book reviews in this newsletter), I have been simultaneously creating a new educational program titled "Wisdom and the Future." The program consists of seven courses, the first course of which is being piloted at AZ Grand in Surprise, Arizona beginning in November (see dates and times in this newsletter). My plan is to cycle through all seven courses on a regular basis and make available online videos and course content on the CFC website. This program will integrate and further evolve all of my presentations on wisdom and on the future that I have been developing over the last twenty years.


Further, the first course in the program, titled "The Psychology of the Future," will be the foundation for a new book--anticipated release date in 2013. Even if you have attended presentations or read previous writings of mine on this topic, this new book and course is a big jump forward over what I have done before--filled with new ideas, lots of contemporary psychological research, and numerous practical exercises to help you enhance your consciousness and self-awareness, stimulate the growth of wisdom within you, and transform your life. Defining the good life and psychological well being, understanding willpower and self-control, seeing the critical connection between personal and grand narratives on life, and grasping the essential nature of creativity and its importance in wisdom and heightened future consciousness are just some of the themes included in this course.


Sign up for the course. Stay in tune. It is a new beginning.

Hope you enjoy what we have included in this issue of Futurodyssey.

Tom Lombardo    

Best Science Fiction Novels  

One of the new features on the CFC Website is my list of Best Science Fiction Novels Of All Time. I've based my ranking on a variety of criteria, including originality, literary quality, and memorability. The list is continually evolving, and since creating it, I would now include two relatively new books I recently read, both of which are incredible creations of cosmic and technological imagination: Matter by Iain Banks and House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. See the complete list of novels. 

Course on "The Psychology of the Future" 


As mentioned above, I will be doing a new course on "The Psychology of the Future" this fall at Sun City Grand in Surprise, AZ. Here's an expanded description of the course:

The central goal of this course is to help you strengthen all those psychological abilities and character virtues essential for developing a more informed, holistic, empowered, constructive, ethical, and creative approach to the future.

Drawing on the latest research and thinking in positive psychology, the study of consciousness, and futures studies, we will examine all the major psychological dimensions of future consciousness, engage in self-assessment of personal strengths and weaknesses, and look at a variety of ways to heighten one's future consciousness.

Of special note, we will work toward an increased understanding of wisdom, the highest expression of future consciousness, ethical competence, and self-development, and construct ideal future global narratives and self-narratives as a practical method for realizing the "good life" and flourishing and evolving in the future.


The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin        

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."  Aristotle

Is happiness the good? Is the pursuit of happiness a worthy goal? Or is it a self-centered and shallow aspiration?
In spite of the "pop culture" and "self-help" appearance of this book, I found it to be very thoughtful, well researched, personable, engaging, and highly practical.

Gretchen Rubin makes a strong case that increasing one's happiness is a very worthwhile goal to pursue, having great benefits and positive effects on all aspects of life, psychological, inter-personal, social, and even ethical. In The Happiness Project, she develops a general theory of happiness that is anything but shallow (in many ways resonant with Aristotle's concept of happiness), where happiness is an accomplishment--even a virtue--and further, she articulates a systematic program for how to realize greater happiness in one's life.

Of particular note, Rubin works from a "resolution" framework rather than a "goal achievement" framework: A resolution is something maintained as an ongoing new feature of one's way of life, rather than a goal which is something accomplished and completed.

Further, Rubin is really into self-monitoring--keeping lists of resolutions and daily checking off of successes and failures; conscientious and methodical self-monitoring turns out to be a key supporting condition for effective self-transformation and the realization of happiness.

Filled with memorable quotes and simply stated principles ("Do good, feel good."), The Happiness Project is a great read. Further, it is worthwhile for those interested, to compare Rubin's approach to Martin Seligman's books Authentic Happiness and Flourish.

Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change by Timothy Wilson

 "I write to define myself--an act of self-creation--part of [the] process of becoming." Susan Sontag

The central thesis in Timothy Wilson's Redirect is that changing one's personal narrative (the story one tells oneself about his or her life, past, present, and future) and one's "core narrative" (the story one tells oneself about the world at large) are pivotal to self-transformation.

How one interprets the world and how one sees oneself--one's general and personal mindsets--are the foundations for one's thoughts, emotions, and actions, and these mindsets reflect the stories we tell ourselves. The narrative is critical to identity, ontology, and ethics. Based on extensive psychological research, rather than "pop psychology" and self-help books (which he strongly criticizes for their non-empirical and "feel good" approaches to life), Wilson outlines a set of "story editing" techniques that appear to produce real and relatively permanent changes in human behavior.

It is worthwhile to compare Wilson's theory of the self and human mind with Damasio's theory of the "autobiographical self"--there is a significant mutually supporting dimension to the two theories. Further, Wilson's narrative approach has great relevance to futurist thinking and the development of future consciousness.

As many futurists argue, given the challenges and problems facing humanity, what we need is a new story (or stories) to take the place of our old dysfunctional ones; Wilson couldn't agree more.

Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

"...every creative journey begins with a problem..." Jonah Lehrer

In spite of the fact that Lehrer fell from grace and lost credibility for admitting that he concocted presumably factually accurate stories in his book Imagine, I still think that his book is a valuable and informative discussion of the nature of creativity.

Lehrer pulls together a variety of ideas on both individual and social creativity. Of particular note, he considers at length the "hard work" versus "sudden inspiration" explanations of creativity, the "immersion" versus "distraction" theories, and the creative genius versus creative culture perspectives.

Though I think that Lehrer gets a bit fuzzy and muddled on the relationship of the brain, the mind, and consciousness, and simplifies the right versus left cerebral hemisphere roles in human psychology, he does include a good amount of stimulating discussion on the brain and creativity. His discussion of West's research into the relative creativity of cities versus corporations (which can be corroborated and verified through some independent research on the reader's part) is also very enlightening.

If nothing else, reading Lehrer's book stimulated me into further articulating my own general theory of creativity (see my article on creativity) which I have now incorporated into my "Psychology of the Future" course. Creativity is a critical theme in both understanding wisdom and the heightening of future consciousness: Wisdom, as manifested in wise individuals, is a highly creative capacity and the future, for sure, is fundamentally an act of creation.


Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney

"Until fairly recently, most people relied on a traditional method for maintaining self-control: They outsourced the job to God." Roy Baumeister and John Tierney

Willpower is a great book--the best non-fiction book I have read this year. Baumeister and Tierney argue at the onset that willpower or self-control is one of the two psychological variables most predictive of success in life (the other being intelligence). (And the evidence I have read through a variety of sources is that the former is a better predictor than the latter.)

From this opening argument, the authors next develop a general theory of willpower, backed by a huge amount of psychological research. Central to their theory is the hypothesis that willpower is a psychological resource of which we have only so much on a given day, and hence, we can and do use it up as the day progresses, putting us in "ego depleted" states. But just as importantly, like the muscles of our body, we can exercise our self-control, making it more effective and powerful over time.

The authors, drawing on empirical research, as well as fascinating biographical accounts of individuals such as Benjamin Franklin and Henry Morton Stanley, among others, explain a variety of ways to conserve willpower, to use it wisely, and to strengthen it.

Just as importantly, the authors make a strong connection between self-control and moral character (for one of the most commonly reported uses of willpower is the ongoing resistance of temptations and personal vices). As I have argued, self-responsibility is the foundational character virtue, for without it, one can not develop any of the other virtues; Baumeister and Tierney similarly pivot the whole issue of character development on self-control.

is filled with numerous fascinating and eye-opening insights and ideas, critical to the challenge of heightening future consciousness and the development of the character virtue of wisdom. How can we control our thoughts--the flow of our consciousness? Why is it important to focus on "lofty thoughts"? Why is the pursuit of increasing self-esteem the wrong way to go? Are we psychologically and ethically evolving? How so?

The authors begin their book with a quote from Charles Darwin, "The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts." Yes indeed. Read Willpower. This is what it's all about.  


Closing Thought: If it is a challenge to simply direct our own thoughts--the flow of our consciousness--how can we hope to guide the overall future direction of the world?
Tom & Jeanne Lombardo
Center For Future Consciousness