Table of contents:
Video: Change Or Lose - Self-development
We all think we know ourselves. But this is a delusion, and so great that modern psychology is engaged in the classification of its types. Why are we mistaken in assessing the impact of the changes taking place in us? And how can the negative consequences of these mistakes be mitigated?
Every day we make decisions that change our lives. We strive to ensure that they are optimal. But no matter how hard you try, you start to regret some decisions after a while. Dream job in three years only evokes hatred. Now I don't want to look at a tattoo that seemed so beautiful.
It would seem that we should not regret any of our decisions, but, of course, this does not happen. Why? One of the explanations is that we do not consider how we will change in the future.
Almost four years ago, a group of renowned psychologists - Daniel Gilbert, Timothy Wilson and Jordi Quidbach - published in Science the result of their research on how people change and what they think about it. They called their discovery "the illusion of the end of history."
19 thousand people took part in six experiments, where personality characteristics, preferences in food, music, friends and places of recreation, as well as predictions about the future and collected reports about the past were found out.
The illusion of the end of history manifested itself in the fact that we believe that in the future we will change much less than we have changed before.
Imagine for a moment how your habits, food habits, lifestyle, hobbies, and tastes will change in ten years. You seem to have lived enough to know what you really like and appreciate it. This is unlikely to change. Let's say you are an "owl", and the best time for you is towards evening and night, it has always been that way. You have long understood that your car is a black Mercedes, and there is nothing more to talk about. You love meat and hate parsley. Appreciate good cognac, all your life in construction, you have a stable business, and you do not understand philatelists and philanthropists. You like Thailand and beach holidays, you do not like Kobzon and Dostoevsky. It is difficult to imagine the reasons why all this and much more will suddenly change.
But if you look back ten years and remember who you were, what you did and what you liked, you will be amazed how much has changed. All the experience of the past says that there will be changes. And more. But for some reason we are sure that in the future everything will be almost the same as now.
In other words, this is the “end of history”, the end of your personal history, the book of life has already been written - you have become the ideal you were striving for. And this is an illusion.
We are an endless construction site where work is constantly in full swing. If you think otherwise, you will not be envied. Do not say that you are "successful." It sounds cool, but it's wrong and even funny.
The wisest thing is time, for it reveals everything
We often think, for example, that in the future we will have more free time. Sound familiar? I do not know about you, but I remember myself ten years ago and am amazed at how much time I had then. Now I can not find the same number and try to imagine what will happen in ten years.
One of the study's authors, Daniel Gilbert, noted that “we can never understand that the future self will look back and think the same about us. At any age we think that we are right, and at any age we are wrong."
It is fair to say that the older we get, the less changes occur in our life (in comparison with us in our twenties). And yet we never stop changing. Muhammad Ali said: "A man who at fifty sees the world the same as he saw it at twenty, has missed thirty years of his life."
This illusion leads to bad decisions: if we think that tomorrow will be the same as today, then, with a high probability, we are no longer right. When we say to ourselves: “I should have known then what I know now,” we should think that we will say the same in five to ten years, looking at ourselves today. Then, perhaps, our decision will not seem so wise to us.
There is an explanation for the illusion of the end of history: when we remember the past, we reconstruct the memories, and when we think about the future, we try to construct. Construction is a mentally more expensive and complex process. This complexity for the imagination makes change seem impossible. And then we may mistakenly think that these metamorphoses will not happen.
Psychologist Dan McAdams of Northwestern University in Chicago, while studying people's stories of the past and the future, drew attention to an interesting difference between the two. The stories of the past are rich in plots, dynamic and exciting, while stories about the future are vague, prosaic and devoid of dynamics: there are no transformations taking place there.
Impossible is possible
Umberto Eco said that “if you interact with what is happening in your life, everything will constantly change. If nothing changes in your life, then you are an idiot."
Change is not only the appearance of something that did not exist before, but also the loss of something from the past. After all, we regularly lose the stability, comfort and predictability of our measured life.
The younger we are, the easier it is to adapt to the technological world. Not all seniors want to learn about gadgets and explore the world of the Internet. And it is necessary to do this: you stop being interested in new products - and immediately you start moving away from the modern world, it becomes incomprehensible, frightening and unpredictable.
In the future, this will be expressed in limited contacts, misunderstanding of social processes. For example, you stop understanding how to pay online or by card, how to find out something without an encyclopedia, or who the hell is this Twitter that everyone reads and discusses. You can console yourself that in this way we will preserve our familiar kind world. But he is no longer and never will be.
There is one more important detail - the speed of change in the world is constantly growing. Believe it or not, in ten years your life will change even more than you can imagine. Literally! Changes that are unimaginable today await us. After all, just a few decades ago, no one could even imagine a smartphone.
We do not know who we will be in ten years, what we will be doing, how many friends we will have, what we will like, what will please, and what will upset. But knowing and understanding that we will definitely change, we get the opportunity to choose how we would like to change.
Don't cheat on yourself
In practice, I often come across the fact that people see in their own changes and metamorphoses some semblance of betrayal to themselves. There is an unaccountable fear that adaptability and adaptation takes a person away from his “essence”, from his “real” image. Although it is quite obvious that the ability to adapt and change is inherent in us by nature for a reason. The ability to understand what has changed around, listen to yourself and react to this change is a wonderful and very useful property that allows you to improve the quality of life.
Change always goes side by side with awareness, one of the most important concepts in psychology. Finding the talents in yourself to look into yourself, to comprehend your own experiences, fears, joys is always a step forward for any person. And if such a look into oneself leads to changes, there is nothing wrong with that. On the contrary, it is another - the next step - in the right direction.
- Nowak P. Humans 3.0: the upgrading of the species. Guilford, Connect.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
- Quoidbach J., Gilbert TD, Wilson TD The End of History Illusion // Science. 2013.339 (6115). 96-98.
- Tierney J. Why you won't be the person you expect to be // The New York Times. Jan 3, 2013.
- Vanderbilt T. You may also like: taste in an age of endless choice. New York: Knopf, 2016.