I come to this post not knowing what to talk about. I just figured it was time to post something. Since I just found an app for my tablet, I wanted to try it out. I am currently sitting in my living room listening to some wild assortment of music while my husband plays Batman: Arkam Asylum (which, by the way, is extremely distracting and interesting to watch). So, I have a conundrum of choice…do I post about music or video games? So, I answer, “how about choices? Yeah, I think so.”
What drives us to make choices? Some would argue that it’s only the workings of our brain intricately weaving webs and networks of electrical signals based on past experience, instinct, and possible results for the most beneficial outcome. To them, I say “good on ya!” I agree to this to a certain extent. The most basic of mammals has this function and ability. So, what makes us different then them? Of course, to most it is only speculation. I’m sure there are people much smarter than I who would love to lecture me about their theory-turned-fact, but I’m not interested in fact. I’m interested in truth. And yes, I believe that facts can be truth, but I am not so limited to believe truth is confined to simple fact strings.
So, back to the topic of choice. Our lives are full of choices, some basic, some extraordinary; all are important. If every living being is able to make choices based on environment and experience and desired result, what drives us as humans to make choices that sometimes have a partial or entirely damaging effect? My thoughts: our emotional and spirit being. Now, don’t get all logic-geek crazy on me just because I used the word spirit. I’ll try and make that point a little clearer later. I’ll just remind you that I enjoy critical thinking and logic and science as much as I like contemplating the supernatural possibilities and improbabilities. Think of me as a huge Spock admirer: “if you remove the impossible, whatever explanation, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”. Yes, I’m a bit of a nerd.
OK, so let’s start with emotions, shall we. Although we can’t really know what the emotional life of animals really is, the amazing research of animal behaviour out there can give us a very interesting set of assumptions. Other mammals seem to have basic instincts as we do, they seem to feel basic emotions – joy, fear, peace. I’d go so far as to say they have a better understanding of patience then most humans I know 🙂 As humans, we seem to have a more complex set of emotions, some primary and some secondary. I would propose that our emotions needs play a bigger role in our decision making process that any other mammal in existence. I also propose it plays a bigger role than physical need most of the time (that is, until our survival instincts set in). I think the best point to support this idea would be addictions. Yes, there is a physical aspect to addictions, but time is the best healer for physical addiction. It’s the emotional reason(s) for choosing to begin an addictive act and continue in addiction even after realizing the physical dangers that really get us.
So, what emotional needs do addictions satisfy to keep us coming back for more? I guess it depends on the person, but may I just suggest one very interesting observation? Yes, oh good, cause I was going to anyway. My thought is three-fold: 1) addictions provide a safe place that you can buy and that can only be taken away by oneself for the most part; 2) it provides a community of people who, if nothing else, you will always have one thing in common with and gives a sense of belonging; and, 3) although you are being judged by those who do not have that addiction, you do not feel judged inside of your community and therefore do not have accountability for the damage you are no doubt causing. Now, I don’t want to split hairs here, but I’m a smoker. I have been for many years. I am also an instructor in a private vocational school whose main focus is the structure and function of the human body and all the effects of disorders, conditions, infections, and diseases we are susceptible to…including cigarettes. So, I can tell you exactly how each of the organs of the body – from skin to heart to individual cells of the respiratory tract – are being damaged each time I take a puff. I also know first hand how many financial issues can come from this particular addiction.
“Oh gosh, Chelsea! How can you still smoke when you know all this?”. Yeah, I’ve had this question posed to me many a time. My response is almost always ‘I know, I know. I’ll quit one of these days.’ Then I laugh. The fact is, it would take ~7 days to rid my body of the physical addiction and dependence; the truth is, I don’t want to quit because the emotional need it meets out weighs the physical damage being caused…in my mind. Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not endorsing smoking or continuing with any addiction that is in anyway damaging you or those around you. Not in the least. I am simply trying to illuminate my point that our choices generally are directed more by our emotional than physical needs. Think about it: take the last 20 decisions you had to make and what drove you to choose one over the other? Some people are blessed with a simpler task of dealing with one emotion at a time generally, so the logistics of decision making can come faster if unabated by too many conflicting factors. I do envy that, however, it does leave something to be desired in long-term planning for the most part.
I’d like anyone who isn’t afraid of looking into the mirror of their own soul to seriously evaluate why they make the choices that come. Even better, to pause each and every time a decision must be made to critically think about it. Is your decision being made emotionally? If so, is the emotion effecting you and everyone around you with the best possible outcome? If not, why not? Is there anything you can do to make sure the result is not damaging? If someone else is involved and they are the cause of a negative result, should you make a decision to not make a decision until the situation has calmed? If you can’t or won’t answer these questions, are you making an emotional choice despite of its negative effects? Are you making excuses to make the choice you want here?
Maybe I’m taking this a bit far, but sometimes that’s what it takes. To be honest, if you read this and thought I’m crazy or just another fanatic, maybe you should ask yourself the questions now, as you decide to judge my opinions. It takes a pretty shallow person to dismiss a possibility just because it doesn’t ‘fit’ your idea of reality. It takes a genius to propose the unthinkable and chase after the dream until proof is unequivocally found. It takes depth to accept the challenge of another and truly discover oneself along the journey. Like I said, I could be full of it, but I am not satisfied believing I’ve arrived until I’ve explored every avenue of improbability, logic, and truth…and neither should you.