Aren’t they always nagging at us?
‘What to do, oh what to do?’ – the mantra of lives.
The tricky part of life is we never have a way to predict what will happen to us on any given day, starting from the moment we first wake up regardless of decisions.
We can have some idea of where we will be in the physical sense because of our established routines like heading to work, or going to see a show, or getting the kids ready for school, or maybe we’ve planned to do nothing at all.
But these themselves don’t predict much when it comes to the flow days will take. All routines do is set us up for a subset of possibilities that would be more likely to present themselves based on the activity.
You won’t forget to put an apple in your son’s lunch if you don’t have a son to make a lunch for, for example. And you’ll expect the outcome of it being eaten since you put it there.
But already this looks like the illusion of being able to predict the outcome based on the short sighted analogy of eliminating just one or 2 known factors among billions of unknown ones.
‘He’ll likely eat the apple, but maybe there’s a small chance he won’t.’, the parent thinks to themselves.
However with mind boggling levels of probability towards random outcomes, how can they possibly do anything to influence a wanted result with near infinite factors at play?
Let’s look at another example – relationships.
In any given context we obsess over the two or three things we’re worried about becoming possible, not probable, which in of itself is an issue of limited thinking. Wondering about a partner’s fidelity if they’ve been out later than expected several times in the past month for example. We think a certain thing based on the limits of our own thinking and so it must be the case. But in reality it could have been because they were out planning a surprise party for you. Or, it could be infidelity. Either way, decisions need to be made based on what little considerations have taken place.
Here again we often forget the billions of unknowns causes that can occur be they positives or negatives so we make decisions we think will serve the outcomes best. But then we can be cut down to size if we failed to consider other factors. Either way, we can’t know for sure if our decisions are correct before we’ve made them and sometimes for some time after. In rare cases outcomes are better than expected, most of the time they tend to be about average 50/50 of good/bad.
So what do we do?
It’s hard enough to keep clairvoyant with the small amount of considerations that we can conceive, let alone be about the things we can’t. Packing lunches and fidelity are fairly simple concepts, but life as a whole certainly isn’t.
The solution to all this worry about decisions is simple to explain but takes a lifetime to learn and master.
Resolve to do the best you can with what you have free of intense emotions that cloud our thinking, want nothing more than to do it or not to do it, and accept that everything else after you have decided on something is out of your hands.
No doubt that this can be easily understood. But we want things to go the way we expect them too, especially if we feel entitled or predisposed to an outcome we’ve settled on. But the truth is the outcome just isn’t up to us and it won’t invest the emotional energy we will into itself.
Coming back to our previous example – you can pack an apple into your child’s lunch and decide they’re going to eat it because that’s what you want, but no amount of wishful thinking is going to will that apple into being eaten. Once the lunch is packed and sent off, nothing is in your control. The apple could be eaten, left aside, thrown away, traded off, fed do an animal, stomped on in the school yard, or used to pull a prank.
These considerations probably never cross a parent’s mind when they put that apple inside, or at least very few of them would, but equal are the chances of any decision the child would make outside of what the parent might want.
This may be an oversimplified example, but it works.
We don’t often get our way. And that’s how it should be. If we did, and everyone did, what kind of world would we have?