Skip to main content

You don't actually know what your future self wants - Shankar Vendantam


TED Talk

Let’s Begin…

In a talk full of beautiful storytelling, journalist Shankar Vendantam explains the profound impact of something he calls the "illusion of continuity" — the belief that our future selves will share the same views, perspectives and hopes as our current selves — and shows how we can more proactively craft the people we are to become.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Throughout the history of mankind, the subject of identity has sent poets to the blank page, philosophers to the agora and seekers to the oracles. These murky waters of abstract thinking are tricky to navigate, so it’s probably fitting that to demonstrate the complexity, the Greek historian Plutarch used the story of a ship. Amy Adkins illuminates Plutarch’s Ship of Theseus.

Time and time again, we’ve failed to predict that the technologies of the present will change the future. Recently, a similar pattern was discovered in our individual lives: we’re unable to predict change in ourselves. But is there anything wrong with assuming that who we are now is who we will continue to be? Bence Nanay details the consequences of seeing ourselves as finished products.

"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. Hint: that's not the case.

Character refers to ways of thinking, acting, and feeling that benefit others as well as ourselves. Character is plural — encompassing strengths of heart, mind, and will. Like social and emotional learning, the elements that make up character can be taught, learned and practiced, and we’re here to help. Explore this page to strengthen your kindness, grit, decision making, curiosity, emotional intelligence and more - brought to you by TED-Ed and Character Lab.

Next Section »

About TED Talk Lessons

TED Talk Lessons are created by TED-Ed using phenomenal TED Talks. Do you have an idea for a lesson? Create it now using any video from YouTube »

Meet The Creators

  • Speaker Shankar Vendantam

More from The Way We Think