“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the “end of history illusion,” where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we’ll be for the rest of time.
Philosopher Joshua Knobe recently posed a perplexing question in contemplating the nature of the self: If the person you will be in 30 years — the person for whom you plan your life now by working toward career goals and putting money aside in retirements plans — is invariably different from the person you are today, what makes that future person “you”? What makes them worthy of your present self’s sacrifices and considerations? That’s precisely what Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbertexplores in this short and pause-giving TED talk on the psychology of your future self and how to avoid the mistakes you’re likely to make in trying to satisfy that future self with your present choices. Picking up from his now-classic 2006 book Stumbling on Happiness (public library), Gilbert argues that we’re bedeviled by a “fundamental misconception about the power of time” and a dangerous misconception known as “the end of history illusion” — at any point along our personal journey, we tend to believe that who we are at that moment is the final destination of our becoming. Which, of course, is not only wrong but a source of much of our unhappiness.
See the full transcript of Dan Gilbert’s TED talk…..
Dan Gilbert_ The psychology of your future self _ Talk Video _ TED.pdf
“At every stage of our lives we make decisions that will profoundly influence the lives of the people we’re going to become, and then when we become those people, we’re not always thrilled with the decisions we made.”
“The question is, as a psychologist, that fascinates me is, why do we make decisions that our future selves so often regret?”
“We have a fundamental misconception about the power of time. Every one of you knows that the rate of change slows over the human lifespan, that your children seem to change by the minute but your parents seem to change by the year. But what is the name of this magical point in life where change suddenly goes from a gallop to a crawl? Is it teenage years? Is it middle age? Is it old age? The answer, it turns out, for most people, is now, wherever now happens to be.”
“All of us are walking around with an illusion, an illusion that history, our personal history, has just come to an end, that we have just recently become the people that we were always meant to be and will be for the rest of our lives.”
“People predict that the friend they have now is the friend they’ll have in 10 years, the vacation they most enjoy now is the one they’ll enjoy in 10 years, and yet, people who are 10 years older all say,“Eh, you know, that’s really changed.”
The ease of remembering versus the difficulty of imagining: Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we’re going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it’s hard to imagine,it’s not likely to happen. Sorry, when people say “I can’t imagine that,” they’re usually talking about their own lack of imagination, and not about the unlikelihood of the event that they’re describing.
The bottom line is, time is a powerful force. It transforms our preferences. It reshapes our values. It alters our personalities. We seem to appreciate this fact, but only in retrospect. Only when we look backwards do we realize how much change happens in a decade. It’s as if, for most of us, the present is a magic time. It’s a watershed on the timeline. It’s the moment at which we finally become ourselves.
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our life is change.”
See the full Bio of Dan Gilbert….