Meghan Sullivan Discusses the Power of Future Thinking During COVID

Meghan Sullivan

Meghan Sullivan, NDIAS Director and Wilsey Family College Professor of Philosophy, has published an article in Psychology Today entitled "How Future Thinking Can Shift Our Perspective During COVID." In the article, Sullivan discusses a new path to resilience during the pandemic through “mental time travel.”

"Perhaps the most important reason to practice mental time travel is that it is a precondition for having a meaningful concept of responsibility for events in our lives," Sullivan says. "There are different ways we might describe how this past year has gone. One description is passive — everything was closed, activities were canceled, life was interrupted. These descriptions are static — they describe events seemingly fixed in time and without any protagonist; only victims. There’s no resilience: no potential for bounce. But adding mental time travel to the mix makes us a dynamic character in a more meaningful story. “In March 2020, I was returning from a work trip in Virginia when I realized how suddenly dangerous the coronavirus had become. A few days, later I moved my entire office into my dining room. I figured out ways to celebrate Easter and even Christmas with my family online. In 2030, we will try to explain this to the littlest nieces and nephews at a December pool party. They will be fascinated with our family’s ingenuity.” Action takes place over time, and while the now might be challenging, we can derive meaning from the insight that our decisions are helping to bring about that later we care about."

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