Taking Stock: Nostalgia

Widen the screen just a little, in fact, and a particularly prominent and disturbing lost self can be seen as merely one guest in a room full of permutations, good and bad. And each of those selves must have an idealized doppelgänger of its own. (Benedict Cary’s Times article)

Today we take stock. And here’s a (not always reliable but interesting) social studies take:

A 2003 study at Concordia University in Montreal and the University of California, Irvine, for instance, suggested that young adults who scored high on measures of psychological well-being tended to think of regretted decisions as all their own — perhaps because they still had time to change course. By contrast, older people who scored highly tended to share blame for their regretted decisions. “I tried to reach out to him, but the effort wasn’t returned.”

In New Year’s Cocktail, Benedict Cary discusses the role of regret – at times useful but at others corrosive.

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Taking Stock: Our Ideas

The Edge poses its annual question; this year’s is

What did you change your mind about in 2007? The world’s intellectual elite spread some New Year humility.

We remember Emerson’s “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines” and are not surprised these rather large ones have changed their minds. Of course, they also make distinctions:

This is the season when, for a day or two, millions of people delude themselves into thinking that fixed goals, firm purposes and rock-like convictions will bring happiness. Set up some distant destination — whether of weight loss or career progression — and trudge doggedly towards it, advise the secular priests of self-improvement. But every lifestyle guru makes one basic mistake. They confuse integrity, which matters, with inflexibility, which doesn’t. So why not abandon the narrow path to disappointment and opt instead for some new year’s irresolution?

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