The Last Laugh? Not if You’re Laughing Now.

Two Faces, One Life


Do you think that you’re wiser now than you were when you were young?

Of course you do.

Do you think that you’ve got a good handle on knowing yourself?

Your tastes?

Your likes?  Dislikes?

Your very personality?

You’ve finally got this living thing figured out, haven’t  you?

Sure you do.

Guess what:  the data says you’re wrong.

Researcher Daniel Gilbert (author of the brilliant Stumbling on Happiness) and colleagues call this “The End of History Illusion”.  They measured values and preferences of nearly 20,000 people, ranging from 18-68 years old, to predict how much they’d change in the next decade.

In their abstract for Science magazine, they write,

Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This “end of history illusion” had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences.”

I just saw the movie Lincoln this week.  One quality of Lincoln’s genius that comes out is his ability to take the long view, to have patience, and to understand that time changes things.

As you begin 2013, what history do you plan to write over the next year…and beyond?


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