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    How do I know what my future self wants? (w/ Shankar Vedantam)

    en-usSeptember 25, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Our identities are not static but constantly evolvingUnderstanding our identities as constantly evolving allows us to embrace change and approach life's challenges with flexibility and resilience.

      Our identities are not static but rather constantly evolving, much like a ship that undergoes replacement of individual pieces while retaining its fundamental organization. Shankar Vedantam, in his TED talk, discusses this concept using the Ship of Theseus thought experiment. He explains that biologically, we change over time, but psychologically, each new layer we add to our experiences shapes us into a new person. This ongoing transformation has profound consequences for our lives, challenging the notion that the different versions of ourselves are the same person. As we navigate the uncertainties of young adulthood, it's essential to recognize and embrace this continuous evolution of identity. By understanding that we are not stagnant beings but rather constantly becoming, we can approach life's challenges with a newfound sense of flexibility and resilience.

    • Understanding the Hidden BrainOur minds have unconscious processes that control vision, skills, and some decisions, challenging the notion of full conscious control.

      Our minds are more complex than we realize, with significant portions operating outside of our conscious awareness, which Shankar refers to as the "hidden brain." This hidden brain includes various mental activities, some of which are permanently sealed off from conscious awareness, such as the neural mechanisms of vision, while others become unconscious through practice and skill, like reading or riding a bike. Some domains are more porous, allowing for conscious control at times, such as breathing. Understanding the hidden brain can provide insights into our behavior and decision-making, revealing that our conscious minds may not always be in control. This concept challenges the notion of being fully conscious and rational beings and highlights the importance of considering the unconscious processes that shape our thoughts and actions.

    • Understanding our hidden brain processesBeing aware of our brain's autopilot tendencies and limitations can help us make informed decisions in today's complex world.

      Our brains have evolved to operate on autopilot for most tasks, but this can lead to misunderstandings of ourselves and blind spots when making important judgments. Our brains have limitations and blind spots, but for most of our evolutionary history, it was not functional for our ancestors to be aware of these. In our modern world, however, where survival is less of a concern and we interact with more people than ever before, it's important to be aware of our hidden brain processes and use our conscious brain to make informed decisions. Our brains have evolved to focus on survival and everyday life, but in today's complex world, we need to consciously engage with our hidden brain processes to navigate social situations and make informed decisions.

    • Mitigating Unconscious Biases in Decision MakingImplementing systems and checks can help prevent unconscious biases from influencing important decisions, such as hiring or podcast guest selections. Being mindful of daily choices and questioning their motivation can also promote more intentional decision making.

      Our unconscious brain plays a significant role in shaping our decisions and judgments, especially in important situations. This can lead to harmful consequences if we're not aware of it. To mitigate this, implementing systems and checks can help ensure more thoughtful and fair decisions. For instance, when making hiring or podcast guest decisions, having a team and a system in place can provide external accountability and prevent unconscious biases from influencing the process. Additionally, being mindful of our daily decisions and questioning whether they're driven by conscious thought or unconscious processes can help us make more intentional choices. Ultimately, finding a balance between our conscious and unconscious minds is crucial for making effective and ethical decisions.

    • Judgments about people may not always be accurateOur brains make quick judgments, but they aren't always accurate, especially in job interviews, and it takes conscious effort to pay attention to insights beyond conscious awareness. Bridging the gap between insight and action is challenging, but having supportive friends or accountability can help.

      Our brains are quick to make judgments about people, but these intuitive judgments may not always be accurate, especially in the modern world where being right is more important than being quick. Job interviews, for example, are often not a good guide to someone's abilities or potential for a job. Our brains are programmed to make quick judgments based on evolutionary needs, but these judgments can lead to misunderstandings and inaccuracies. The gulf between what experts know about the mind and what most people believe has not closed completely, and it takes conscious effort to pay attention to insights that lie outside of conscious awareness. The gap between insight and action is vast, and it's important to remember that recognizing these insights is only the first step towards making positive changes. We all struggle with this gulf, and having supportive friends or accountability can help us bridge it.

    • The Paradox of Believing We Know Ourselves but Struggling to Predict Our Future SelvesPeople underestimate the changes they'll undergo in the future and miss opportunities to shape their future selves, but being aware and taking action can lead to a more fulfilling life.

      Our assumptions and default patterns can significantly impact our lives, and we may not fully understand who we will become in the future. Shankar Vedantam, in his TED Talk, explores this paradox that we believe we know ourselves well but struggle to predict our future selves. A study conducted by Dan Gilbert, Tim Wilson, and Jordi Kwitbach revealed that people at every age believe they've changed a lot in the past but don't expect much change in the future. This paradox can lead us to overlook the ways we're changing and miss opportunities to shape our future selves. Claritin D, with its powerful allergy-relieving and decongestant properties, offers fast and effective relief for allergy sufferers, allowing them to live more clearly and breathe easily. Similarly, taking an active role in understanding and shaping our future selves can lead to a more fulfilling life. As Shankar suggests, we should be the curators and architects of our future selves.

    • Embrace the journey of self-discovery and personal growthRecognize that we won't remain the same person, engage in both navigation and pathfinding, and embrace uncertainty to better understand our evolving selves

      While we make decisions that shape our future selves, it's essential to recognize that we won't remain the same person. Our interests, values, and aspirations change over time. Therefore, instead of focusing solely on navigation, which is making decisions based on what others are doing or what seems practical, we should also engage in pathfinding, discovering who we truly want to become. However, it's important to acknowledge that we may not have all the answers right now, and that's okay. The journey of self-discovery and personal growth is an ongoing process. By embracing uncertainty and staying open to new experiences, we can better understand our evolving selves and the paths that lead us to our future goals.

    • Discovering and shaping our future selvesEmbrace new experiences, be curious, reflect on past and present, and engage in activities that align with values to reveal potential vocations and guide personal growth.

      The process of discovering and shaping our future selves involves embracing new experiences, being curious, and making course corrections based on our values and passions. To do this effectively, we should identify situations where we lose ourselves in an activity and ask ourselves what those experiences reveal about our potential vocations and values. By reflecting on our past and present, we can gain insights into who we are and who we want to become. Additionally, engaging in activities that align with our values and make us proud of ourselves can serve as indicators of our true selves and guide us in our personal growth journey.

    • Recognizing the importance of adapting to change in our livesBe open to reevaluating our plans as we grow and experience new situations, recognizing that our feelings and circumstances may evolve.

      We should pay closer attention to our thoughts and feelings throughout our lives and recognize that our values and priorities may change. The speaker emphasizes the importance of revisiting plans we make for our future selves and being humble about the fact that our feelings and circumstances may evolve. Using the example of a child's answer about what they want to be when they grow up, the speaker highlights the capacity for adaptation and change in our lives. The idea is not to avoid making plans, but to be open to reevaluating them as we grow and experience new situations. The consequences of not doing so can be significant, particularly in high-stakes situations such as end-of-life decisions. Ultimately, the speaker encourages us to approach our future selves with understanding and flexibility, recognizing that we are constantly evolving beings.

    • Understanding and allowing for personal growth in ourselves and othersRecognizing the constant evolution of ourselves and others leads to stronger connections and empathy

      We all change and grow throughout our lives, but we often forget to extend that same understanding and grace to others. We may laugh at the things we once thought were important, but we don't always apply that same perspective to the present or to our relationships. It's essential to remember that both ourselves and the people around us are constantly evolving, and giving each other the permission to change can lead to stronger connections and a better understanding of one another. Shankar Vedantam, the host of Hidden Brain, emphasized this idea during his conversation with Chris Duffy on How to be a Better Human. By recognizing the unknowability of our future selves and extending that understanding to others, we can foster more compassionate and empathetic relationships.

    • Streamline Business Operations with Odoo and SlackSwitch to Odoo for an affordable, all-in-one business solution and use Slack for instant communication and task automation to save time and money.

      If you're looking to streamline your business operations, save time and money, then considering a switch to Odoo and implementing Slack in your workflow could be beneficial. Odoo is an affordable, all-in-one management software with a library of fully integrated business applications. It helps businesses get more done in less time for a fraction of the price compared to other options. On the other hand, Slack is a collaboration hub where work happens with all your people, data, and information in one AI-powered place. It allows for instant communication and automation of routine tasks, saving you time and effort. By utilizing both Odoo and Slack, businesses can modernize their management and work processes, enabling them to grow more efficiently. To learn more about Odoo, visit odoo.com/betterhuman, and to get started with Slack, go to slack.com.

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