Our lives seem immensely complicated. Indeed when we look back at what has led us to this particular moment or the specific life we are living, most of us likely scratch our heads in wonder. How did I get here from there? Why are these specific people in my life? How come x, y and z have occurred?
In truth, life’s complications are only a series of simple yes or no, left or right, up or down decisions.
Quite often we hear the brain being compared to a computer. A computer’s processor will only be capable of results derived from the data/information that has been programmed or uploaded to it. It is impossible for it to create a response that isn’t a direct product of what it already has locked in its hard drive or network. Similarly, we humans base our beliefs, opinions, and our very reality on the things we have seen, learnt, heard or felt. Therefore, the boundaries of our world and the questions around our existence continue to shift as new discoveries (e.g. the Earth no longer is flat…for some) and points-of-view come to hand.
The other uncanny parallel between CPUs and our minds is the simplicity behind each of our seemingly complex decision-making systems. That is to say that each step a computer ever takes when performing a task is to choose to either turn a cell or circuit ON or to leave it OFF (or to TURN it off if it was previously on). Then it does it again with the next cell and so on. And although those steps are very straight-forward, depending on whether the decisions are to turn each circuit ON again and again or whether to switch to a more complicated sequence such as ON, OFF, OFF, ON, OFF, ON, ON, OFF, OFF, OFF, ON, you can see how quickly it might be to become lost without a map. For computers, ON is represented by the number 1 and OFF by the number 0.
Each choice is a simple one, but the combination of all choices could lead to vastly, almost unrecognisable destinations and outcomes.
For us humans, the process is exactly the same. We may or may not recognise it at the time but every moment presents us with a simple decision with a choice between two options. These could carry different names or labels: Left or right, yes or no, up or down, right or wrong. And, although these are all valid, they may bring with them connotations or beliefs that could cause stress on the decision-making process due to the judgements we place on the terms. I believe the most reliable way to think about these choices is to choose between what you KNOW ‘feels good’ and what you KNOW ‘feels bad’. In other words - deep breath – you can take it one step at a time and restart the process whenever you want!
Imagine how different our lives and our world could look if we became more conscious of this perspective? Would it be helpful to help us deal with stress by identifying that every task or challenge is simply one choice after another and that we have the ability to sort one option from another? Particularly when judging or labelling others. Remember that choosing the option you know to be ‘wrong’ for you is not RIGHT or WRONG but simply a choice and, like a computer, all it means is that a series of decisions will create an outcome and another will just create a different outcome. There is no judgement. The same or different ones and zeros can be chosen later.
You get to choose!