Why trying to pinpoint this one bad decision is completely pointless (How most people’s flawed thinking leads to their unnecessary suffering)
[ 3 min read ]
If I could go back in time, what would I change in my life and why?
Nothing. But not because my life was so damn fantastic up until this point, but because it is a flawed thinking that if we took this one thing (this unfortunate event, this bad decision / choice) out from a person’s life everything would be much better, or even perfect.
That’s the greatest bullshit ever! It’s ludicrous to assume that everything would be just fine if we only took this or that out. It’s the most vivid example of our wishful thinking.
It’s far more likely that if we changed that one piece in that story (little or big, doesn’t matter) other things would change too. Some pieces would remain the same (or be only slightly different) but some wouldn’t — we can’t be sure what would happen. And thus we have no idea what the reality would really look like if we changed only this one small piece. And nevertheless we always imagine this perfect reality in which we would live.
We fool ourselves that everything would be better. Because what? Because the universe knows what would be better for such and such a person and it would make sure that only good things would happen to that person?
Are you kidding me? If the universe knew what is good and bad for us and if it cared that we shouldn’t experience the bad, would we have the bad (would we ask questions how this bad thing or that bad thing affected our development or what would we change)?
We want to believe that everything would be better because it’s nice to at least know what went wrong and what the reality would be like if it didn’t. So when we write those alternative life stories (where this or that mistake or misfortune didn’t happen) almost nobody assumes that instead alternative (unknown to us) mistakes or misfortunes would have happened. And it’s totally possible that they would have happened (before or after the unfortunate event happened which we would like to erase from our lives). We could have died at birth, or later in a car accident leaving three children and a spouse who was the love of our life, or become the next Hitler, or gone to the next Vietnam War or something, or been born with a disability, or been shot dead in school, or been killed by some weird disease spread by mosquitos, or been kidnapped or raped, or gone to jail for 10 years without having done anything wrong (legal system failed), etc.
No, none of it would happen. Why would it happen?, we think. Or we don’t even realize it could happen.
If only father hadn’t yelled at mother. If only mother had been emotionally stable. If only mother and father had stayed together. If only I hadn’t been raised by a single mother. If only I had been born five years earlier (or later). If only I hadn’t married that woman. If only I hadn’t joined this gang. Nonsense!
The only place where it can work are fiction stories (in books or movies). When you’ve written a fiction book and thus created some reality pertinent only to this story, this reality is fixed. You can ponder what would make the story (the book, or the movie) even better and you can actually improve that story. Why? Because you have total control of it — you control all pieces. It’s a fixed reality which can only be changed by you, the author. Life doesn’t work this way.