Do I have a choice?
Man, there’s a question that’s been bugging me for years. And I know it’s been bugging many of you, as well.
It’s a question closely related to the matter of confidence. Because confident people have a mindset of abundance, possibilities and proactivity. Whereas non-fident people have a mindset of scarcity, limitations, and re-activity.
Confident people not only see a variety of options to choose from when making choices. So they rarely, if ever, pick the wrong option; and they always find a way back out if they do.
Non-fident people, on the other hand, rarely see many options — if any at all. Therefore, they tend to think of themselves as victims of circumstances.
But what exactly IS a choice? Exactly how free IS our will?
Do I have a choice, for example, in what to eat for dinner tonight?
Oh, Hell yes. I have TONS of options. And if I don’t stray too much from the theme of normal, human food, my choice isn’t gonna make a whole lot of difference.
So that outcome can be based on factors like personal taste (certain dislikes etc.), impulsiveness (sudden cravings), and specific circumstances (the local store is out of rice).
But do we have any genuine control over these factors? We might affect them to a certain degree. We might eat something out of necessity if we’re in a hurry. Or because we have nothing else left and can’t afford anything ‘till payment’s due.
We might go to the other end of town just to try that new burger joint. We might eat vegan if we’re visiting a vegan couple.
So, are those choices? Or, are they more like actions influenced by inner and outer conditions? Read on as you ponder this.
Another example: Do I have a choice in writing this article or not?
I could not do it. I could just slump on the couch, open a beer and watch House of Cards. Which, admittedly, I do feel like doing. But I also like writing, and I find this topic interesting. So I genuinely DO want to write this article.
Writing not only brings me joy; it makes my wonderful readers come back, and it keeps the search engines happy when done consistently. So I’ll do it now, and then have a beer and watch House of Cards later.
That’s my priority, then. Based on both urgency and pleasure — the latter both short and long-term.
Does that mean I have less mobility in making a choice like that? Again: Read on.
Last example: Do I have a choice in picking a career?
We’re often told that we can “be anything we want”, but the reality is often quite another. A buddy of mine wanted to be a pilot. — A dream that would never come true because of his astigmatism. So he became an engineer, which allowed him to do something with relevant similarities.
So, is that a choice? Or is it rather a decision influenced by inner and outer conditions?
Me, I wanted to be a musician — something I gradually slipped out of due to more reasons than I can or ought to get into here. So I became an entrepreneur, because it has the same elements of freedom and creativity that appealed to me in music.
Again: Is that a choice? Did I actively choose to let the whole music thing just… slide??
And conversely, if someone is fixed on one job or career from the beginning, then gets that job or career and never changes course, is THAT a choice?
If those are both equally valid choices, then how are they not like each other at all??
The counterpoint here is basically the same all along: There are always options, but whatever we end up doing simply depends on a variety of factors.
If we follow this logic to the end, it’s impossible not to consider determinism at some point.
So, do I have a choice? Yeah, kind of.
One of the problems here is our idea of free will. And, like I’ve said before, while we do have a will, it isn’t free. It’s conditioned.
Part of this problem is that the idea of free will is deeply ingrained in our idea of making choices. Even the word choice, rather than the word act — or, indeed, re-act, — seems to suggest there’s more going on than simply a lifelong series of actions.
For the purpose of this article, I’ll get back to what I said in the beginning about confident people and the way they think.
See, the more we think in making choices, the more confident we get. And, conversely, the more confident we get, the more options we tend to see, and the better we become at prioritizing.
And for all intents and purposes, that’s what we want. Because that’s what benefits us.
Do I have a choice? Maybe, maybe not. It’s an interesting question, but it’s not important.
What’s important is being confident in one’s thoughts and actions, and acting in accordance with one’s values. What’s important is making one’s decisions on a solid foundation.
And it’s more important to make decisions in the first place than to not make them. If we don’t decide for ourselves, life itself will just bounce us around at its own convenience.