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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, 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.
It’s not that people don’t want to change. People do want to change.2There’s no doubt about that.
People are “afraid” of change. Change is uncertainty.
People are extremely risk-averse. (IMO) That’s the greatest limitation. The biggest progress happens through unusual events. Risk(uncertainty) is a necessity in doing anything significant.3Think about it: can someone possibly have certainty going to unexplored territories?
On a side note, risks are never as big as they seem.4Look macro enough, things are inevitably less impactful than they seem. Besides, humans are antifragile creatures; we “benefit” from uncertainty.5“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
We Hate Uncertainty
Why do we hate uncertainty so much?
I think it has to do with evolution. People who took risks died. Those who settled with whatever they had6even the miseries, stayed alive, passed on their genes, and here we are.
But, we now live in an asymmetrical7“limited downside, unlimited upside”world; in a first-world country, no matter what risk you take, you’ll probably stay alive. Even with a lot of debt, declare bankruptcy, you won’t be jailed.
Besides, uncertainty is un-peace; it’s instability.
What’s life about, again?
Forget about checks and balances for a moment. Remember what life is about?
Life is about the ‘intrigue’8the experiences(stories) you want to live. Intrigue is all that you’re looking for. 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.9Even if there is, there’s no follow-up of “that”.
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.
Let’s take this to a “realistic” context. Fine. You’re guaranteed your education. You’re guaranteed your job. You’re guaranteed your promotion. You’re guaranteed your marriage. You’re guaranteed even your kids’ success. Ok. Now you know exactly how your life will turn out. So what? What’s the value in that?
Again, once you die, everything goes back to 0.
You don’t want guarantees. Guarantees destroy the intrigue. Guarantees make life dull.
The very ‘fact’ that you dislike uncertainty means that you haven’t attained ‘peace’, or that your peace is ‘fragile’10easily disrupted(which isn’t true peace).
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.11It 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.12They 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
People think they 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!13Reminder: 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.14You 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.
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Questions & comments are welcome!
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