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People want certainty more than anything else.
In fact, people love it so much that they would even sacrifice happiness for it! People love stability, the “guarantees”. So much, so that there are many people out there enduring endless miseries, doing nothing about it. 1Like that person who’s been working at McDonald’s for 10 years.
We Hate Uncertainty
Why do we hate uncertainty so much?
The evolutionary explanation would be that people who took risks died. Those who settled with whatever they had, stayed alive, passed on their genes, and here we are.
Certainty gives a glimpse of peace—Peace is our greatest desire.
Certainty isn’t peace.
What’s life about, again?
Forget about checks and balances for a moment. Remember what life is about?
Life itself has no consequences; when you die, it all goes back to 0. It’s a movie. When it ends, it ends; there’s no follow-up.
Do you want to watch the horror film if you knew exactly what’s going to happen?
Do you want to watch live sports games if you knew who’s going to win?
Not really. That would make it boring. Uncertainty is something you actually want.
With the optionality for peace, you don’t want guarantees. Guarantees make life dull.
Because the only thing that a person, without peace, looks for is peace. It’s only when a person is “guaranteed” peace, does he want uncertainties.
And generally, they don’t go together. Uncertainties are associated with not-peace, leading to imbalances, positive or negative(mostly).
The only way they can coexist is by ‘ownership’.
‘Ownership’ comes with the ability to come back to peace(baseline happiness) at will.3It means you can be peaceful as you wish.
(Ownership, in and of itself, is guaranteed; once you have it, it’s semi-permanent–it’s a skill.)
With peace, there’s only boredom. So, the person with ownership “voluntarily” leaves peace for intrigue.
With ownership, we naturally welcome uncertainties. Going up&down is only enjoyable.
We’re nervous when we anticipate a consequential uncertainty.
If there’s more to gain, it’s ‘excitement’. If there’s more to lose, it’s ‘anxiety’. In fact, they’re almost the same, physiologically.4They both incite this “butterfly-in-the-stomach” feeling.
Because uncertainties lead to more losses than gains, we tend to interpret them(butterflies) as negative.
But then, what do we mean by “gains” or “losses”? It’s results – expectations. It’s a “gain” as much as it exceeds the expectations, and it’s a “loss” as much as it fails to meet the expectations.
For example, you’re taking a test. If you don’t get a 100 on it, you’re done. The test starts, you solve questions…uh-oh, there’s a question you don’t get! ‘Anxiety’ creeps in. There’s uncertainty; little to gain, everything to lose.
In a different scenario: the typical score is 0; if you get 1 question right, you’re a superstar. The test starts, you scroll through questions, none of them makes sense…but then, one question pops out to you; it kind of makes sense! There’s a spark of ‘excitement’. You start solving the question. Excitement grows. By the time you complete the solution, you’re so excited that your heart is pounding like mad!
What was the difference? Expectations.
It’s all about expectations!
You Don’t Need Confidence
Nervousness is the point.
It’s just one of the ‘feelings’ that add more texture to life. It’s literally what you’re looking for when you go watch a movie!5Reminder: Life is a movie, you’re the director & the audience.
Movie directors are desperately looking to create nervousness.
Perhaps the problem is “unwanted nervousness”…the result of not having ‘ownership’.
The Anxiety You Don’t Want
You want nervousness to be specific to the thing you’re doing. If not, it’s only unpleasant. That’s ‘unspecific anxiety’.
Involuntary, unspecific anxiety is the real devil. It’s different. ‘Uncertainty’ isn’t the source. Not acting is.
That’s not it. It’s not simply that you aren’t doing anything.6You should be most peaceful when there’s nothing. If not, something’s wrong. The problem is that you don’t even know what it means.
The true problem is that you’re unaware of your desires.
That you’ve adopted so many desires; that you’re lost in the sea of desires.
Besides, nervousness is a sign of “not being in the present.” By definition, you’re anticipating the future; your mind is imagining all the possible scenarios.
If you don’t have freedom of mind, you don’t get to choose (not) to be nervous.
4. Related Posts
Questions & comments are welcome!