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The Deathbed Fallacy

Your past selves

You don’t know your past selves. The older you get, the more you think you understand yourself as a younger person. You have probably forgotten how you were influenced then and might still have the same values. 

For instance, you might think that a priority as a child was to fit it. But, if really looking at your diary, you discover that you valued independence back then the same you do now.

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The Deathbed Fallacy

The Deathbed Fallacy

https://medium.com/@rikardhjort/the-deathbed-fallacy-5e54d9639167

medium.com

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Key Ideas

The Deathbed Fallacy

People on their deathbeds regret not spending more time with their family, traveling more, worrying less, etc.

We change over time as we grow and mature. The fallacy is to think that the person you are on your deathbed knows how you should live your life right now. 

Not a representative state

The 'deathbed' is not a representative state of life. What you desire when you are there might not have much in common with the most meaningful or satisfactory life you could have led.

  • The deathbed-you has no future, only present and memories.
  •  People on their deathbeds think they know their past selves well, but they probably don't.
  • They are locked in a time, place and life situation that might be different from yours.

Your past selves

You don’t know your past selves. The older you get, the more you think you understand yourself as a younger person. You have probably forgotten how you were influenced then and might still have the same values. 

For instance, you might think that a priority as a child was to fit it. But, if really looking at your diary, you discover that you valued independence back then the same you do now.

We're not the same person

Maybe you think the key to happiness is universal - that it is a constant in the changing world. However, the challenges facing this generation is not the same as that of the previous generation. Grandparents might have had trouble staying in touch, but they weren’t stuck on social media.

Perspectives on life

Those who "figure out" what life is really about, seem to focus a lot on the higher-order needs. They might have been workaholics and will cast judgment on their former selves.

People who already have a lot seem to assume that if they never strived for it, they would be happier. But, striving gave them their family, their network and their passions.

The alternative

Don't worry about the Deathbed fallacy.  Don't worry about what some old version of yourself will think of you. Consider what you should do to become more fulfilled both today and in the future. 

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