We’ve all heard of predestination- the philosophical doctrine stating that every event that occurs has already been decided for us by the will of God and that no matter what we do, we cannot escape our fate/destiny. Then there is determinism. This less popular concept has a similar underlying idea in that humans have no control over the occurrences of their life; however, it also states that these events, including those involving moral decision making, are determined by external forces such as previous experience and outcomes. Simply put, determinism blames any decision we make on our brain’s interpretation of reality, which sounds quite contradictory if you ask me.

As human beings, our brains are naturally set to make us happy. They are biologically wired to draw us away from negative energy and towards positivity- basically, the brain is your best friend and will do everything in its power to bring you peace. In any given situation, the human mind will consider countless past experiences and potential future outcomes before making a decision, and this entire process happens in the blink of an eye, faster than anyone can possibly realize it’s happening. 

Let us use average Bob as an example. Bob works in the vineyards in a small town in Southern California with his long-time girlfriend, perfect Amy. One day, Bob loses his job, gets into a fight with Amy, and realizes that he has actually always been miserable in his boring town with its unbearably hot weather. Bob’s brain reminds him of all the negative parts of his small-town life and convinces him to move to New York City, where he finds a well-paying office job and starts dating silly Zoe. Bob’s brain helped Bob to be happy for a little while, but then it started to point out that Bob actually hates waiting for cabs in the snow, Zoe’s crazy antics are a lot to handle, and that big-city life is stressful and perhaps not worth the better pay without Amy to enjoy it with. Bob starts to miss the comfort of his small town, the sweet memories with Amy, and falling asleep to the sound of the waves- but now, Bob is confused.

Was it always Bob’s destiny to end up in the big city with Zoe, no matter what? If not, then did Bob really make his own decision out of free-will, or had Bob’s brain- with its interpretation of life events- been wired to do so all along? Bob’s brain, like any other brain in its natural state, found the negative in each situation he was in, and reminded him of the positive that had been or could be in another situation. Without any training, we are all like Bob: helpless to the natural thought process of our brains. 

“If we do not control our minds, then our minds will surely control us.”

The good news is that with active practice, we can become keenly aware of the thoughts that enter our minds and change the wiring of our brains over time. If we look for the bad, we will find it. If we look for the good, we will find it just as easily.  

The next time you begin to notice all the negativity in your life and reasons why the grass seems greener on the other side, think of Bob. Remember that you can choose to control your mind and switch those thoughts into positive ones and be happy right where you are- the choice is entirely up to you.

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