[Food for thought] Expectations and Choices


With intelligence and mindfulness come expectations. The better we become at using highly evolved brain functions, the more our brains are exposed to tricky, ambiguous, and extreme choices.

One way of looking at a conscious intelligent life, is to think of it as a decision tree. Every step of the way, you face choices. And the ones you take, form your own personal decision tree: the tree of YOUR life.

The catch, however, is in how choices appear. If you think about it, a choice exists because our mind perceives it that way. To one, at the same decision point, there may be 6 choices. To another, there is no decision point. Because there is no need to make a decision. However, this may change with time. And situations.

Our subconscious, conscious, and corrupted (with formal education) minds want to lead us along a preferred path through a forest of decisions (let us call these our ‘expectations’ from respective lives). So there comes the motivation to make a situation into a decision point.

Now of course the highly evolved thought and emotion processing system that we think we “own” and “control”, comes into action, and paints a variety of ‘choices’ ahead of us, proposing the grades and weights and intricacies to make you think you can objectively compare them, pick the best one, and move along your merry way through this beautiful life forest (of course until the next decision point).

Add to this the dynamics of another fellow human, who bring their own set of (sub)conscious expectations, prejudices, minds, choices.

You see how easy it is for you to get lost in choices, and comparisons, and decisions (and second thoughts, and shared blames, and successes, with more successes to run to – alone or together)?

No wonder Buddha swore by these two mantras:

– Expectations cause sorrow (but this is exactly why we are superior animals – we can think. Logically. Scientifically. Put goals. Make elaborate plans. Generate measures of success. Right?)

– Choices introduce pain (Wait a minute. Don’t choices liberate us? Don’t we ‘feel’ powerful that we can choose – between persons A and B, between cars C and D, between jobs E and F…? Isn’t ‘freedom to choose’ the premise for ‘happiness’ in the modern consumption focused world?)

So, have we evolved much as a race? Or have we created more goals to rise to, more expectations (with means and metrics to get to them), and more choices of paths for our children?

Is a life laden with expectations and the intricacies of choices to meet them, bound to make you peaceful and happy, along your way through the forest of life, at each decision point?

And should you really worry about the decision points, because the goal is to reach the end, and then be perfectly happy (the pursuit of happiness)?

Or should you pick happiness at each decision point, live a little, and move on… for little doses of peace, passion, and content?

Food for thought:-)

2 thoughts on “[Food for thought] Expectations and Choices

  1. Prash, I really love how you lay it out and at the very end you give a choice which resonates strongly with me, to choose joy and happiness at each point. I’m trying to live these words at each point and along the journey in between too.

    I’m practicing mindful gratefulness, which by itself is difficult, so I had to realize that at each point along my journey I’ve made the very best decision possible, given the facts and the tools I had on hand at that time.

    When I consciously remembered this I could give myself permission to relax into being grateful, rather than scolding myself and feeling guilty about how a situation was playing out. By removing the negative self talk, I removed the negative feelings of depression and anxiety and became more open to seeing opportunities when they came up, instead of allowing the inner martyr to reign and they to force me to pay penance for a poor decision. That was such a negative cycle to have been caught up in!

  2. Pingback: 10 Steps to Happiness | OnBecoming a Lemonade Maker

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