Choices – The Improbable Task

Choice with a focus on desired outcomes is an essential life skill that should not be underestimated – particularly in a connected world ripe with abundance. To achieve even 24hrs worth of outcomes, on average, we must make approximately 35,000 decisions in that time.

This may seem overwhelming as well as impossible, but everything from crossing the street to shifting our gaze toward something counts as a decision. Imagine how many things you look at in a day. Suddenly 35,000 doesn’t seem so far-fetched, does it?

For each decision, there is an outcome that changes the trajectory of our day with each choice compounding upon the last often without any conscious awareness if we take into account the scale of choices contrasted with the ability to hold a memory of them. As days compound, so do our choices – defining us in the long term.

We live the vast majority of our life absent of recollection of the importance of even our most minute decisions that lead to such long-term outcomes. We call these choices, ‘the little things that makeup life’.

There are varying degrees of awareness of decisions at the individual level. This is evident when we look at how people live their lives over time. No two minds see the choice in exactly the same way, nor do they find relevance in the same choices most of the time. Exceptions to this however are found in the collective social bonds involving social/political constructs and religious dogma.

We are generally living two lives at once, each with different rules about choice. One involves the choices we make for our faith and our politics as referenced above. The other is our individuality – the path we take within ourselves as we cultivate our parts of mind, body and soul.

The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung put context to this problem in the opening lines of his book The Undiscovered Self, “What will the future bring? From time immemorial this question has occupied men’s minds, though not always to the same degree.”

In this statement, we can grasp the scope of the problem of defining our path within our personal lives and can split it into a few categories for consideration and analysis.

First, the level of awareness of the individual in regards to their ability to properly contextualize choice as a long-term strategy. The principle is simple, although quite disheartening to those with a control complex – no two men or women will be able to make the right choices 100% of the time no matter how hard they may try.

Second, building on the first, choice is inherently uncertain to us as individuals and is the cause of most of our anxieties about the future. These include all three realms of the personal.

Third, this battle of choice and internal conflict is eternal in nature, therefore unavoidable. To loosely paraphrase the rock band Rush, ‘even if we don’t choose, we still have made a choice.’

With such considerations and awareness, how do we now choose what is, what will be, and what will not be?

A strategy is not forthcoming, but perhaps building an understanding of the basic needs of the individual in relation to faith and society could prove a promising starting point. At the very least we stand to gain both an understanding of where to begin and a minute glance at where we will end.

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