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Old 12-29-2018, 07:04 PM   #1
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Default Could it have been different?

Sometimes I wonder if I could have lived my life differently given my total state of being at the time. Now I wish I have lived it differently based on the outcome I see, but at the time I didn't know or see clearly. We cannot change the past, and we hope to learn from our experiences, but what if we cannot change our destiny, and we are who we are supposed to be, and we do what we do based on our current conditions? It's nice to believe that we have control, but what if we don't?
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Old 12-30-2018, 08:01 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Sans Nom View Post
Sometimes I wonder if I could have lived my life differently given my total state of being at the time. Now I wish I have lived it differently based on the outcome I see, but at the time I didn't know or see clearly. We cannot change the past, and we hope to learn from our experiences, but what if we cannot change our destiny, and we are who we are supposed to be, and we do what we do based on our current conditions? It's nice to believe that we have control, but what if we don't?
Your post is helpful to me. Basically God knows all our mistakes before we make them, but I wish He'd prevent me from making them. I guess they are our tests, and we are supposed to pass but don't causing the misfortunes in our lives. But I look to him for guidance. And I found I passed one test he thought I would fail suicide. I didn't have a life plan after that non suicide attempt. I floated. I eventually made plans of my own and am still feeling like I'm in charge of my destiny. But He's around. Anyway, your post helped me rationalize my failings.
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Old 12-30-2018, 02:13 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Sans Nom View Post
Sometimes I wonder if I could have lived my life differently given my total state of being at the time. Now I wish I have lived it differently based on the outcome I see, but at the time I didn't know or see clearly. We cannot change the past, and we hope to learn from our experiences, but what if we cannot change our destiny, and we are who we are supposed to be, and we do what we do based on our current conditions? It's nice to believe that we have control, but what if we don't?
It's a good question SansNom. With regard to past choices, I tend to believe that I made the best choices I could have at that time, given who I was back then and what I did or didn't know then. We all make mistakes. That's human. And regret has no value. You are still alive therefore you can make new choices and alter your path. I believe it is never too late to live a life of intention. There is certainly a random aspect to the Universe...we cannot know all the issues that will crop up in our lives. Our control is in how we respond to the random events. Hence, the life of intention. Personally, I think that's probably a more likely path toward peace and inner joy as opposed to believing that everything was already mapped out and there is nothing we can do about it...that sounds really depressing to me.

There's an ongoing debate about free will among philosophers etc. My thought is that we each must develop and follow our own belief system. I am not religious but I believe that myself and all the other beings are part of rich and complex Universe. What is your belief system? Or maybe that's what you're trying to figure out. Someone recently recommended this book to me: 'The Denial of Death' by Ernest Becker. I think it might help you. Check it out online and see what you think.

Best wishes to your on your quest for truth and enlightenment. One thing I have learned in my life: if in doubt, opt for the more optimistic outlook. The research on pessimists vs optimists is very powerful. Guess who has better health, longer life expectancy, healthier relationships Be well.
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Old 12-30-2018, 05:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Could it have been different?

Interesting question. I think about this sometimes. If we're willing to take the consequences, we can technically do whatever we please, but we are limited to the options we can think of and comprehend, analysed by our imperfect thought processes (I might not realise that certain options are available, or may not believe I'm capable); and we are limited by what we consider unacceptable consequences (losing home, jail, disapproval).

I have no idea how much a person can change their basic attitudes and beliefs, or how much real control they have over what they choose to do (or don't choose - I feel like a lot of what I do is the default, me with the absence of having made a choice). But I'd agree with HopefullyLost about trying the more optimistic path. I know that the pessimistic one gets you nowhere new. Even if our destiny is mapped out, being active in making our future might be enough to give a sense of purpose or satisfaction.

Sorry for the rambling.
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Old 12-30-2018, 06:17 PM   #5
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Sorry for the rambling.
You weren't rambling Jam777. Very insightful post!
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Old 12-30-2018, 06:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: Could it have been different?

I don't believe that our lives is mapped out from beginning to end in advance as in determinism, but I am inclined to believe that we are a product of randomness in the universe, environment, and in our minds. For example, currently I am depressed, and I cannot be optimistic by choice no matter how badly I want to be. I am depressed because I am alone and lonely. I am alone and lonely because I cannot connect with people. I cannot connect with people because I have social anxiety. I have social anxiety because of some trauma in my childhood with genetic disposition to it. My state of mind and my current situation dictates this outlook. How we react to what happens to us is also influenced by randomness. The best we can do maybe just accept what happens. We can try to improve, but the path is not guaranteed. Take for example successful people. To me, these are the exception, because we don't hear about all those who died trying to succeed because they never made it, and almost no one writes about their failures. It's like life itself. Living is the exception, and extinction is the rule, as Carl Sagan said. It's nice to believe we can do something about our lives, but I wonder if this is just an illusion for hope.
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Old 12-30-2018, 07:31 PM   #7
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[QUOTE=Sans Nom;6384560]

You definitely sound depressed SansNom and I am sorry for that.
I live with depression myself and I have found therapy and several other strategies really helpful. You say "currently I am depressed, and I cannot be optimistic by choice no matter how badly I want to be. I am depressed because I am alone and lonely. I am alone and lonely because I cannot connect with people. I cannot connect with people because I have social anxiety."

Why can you not choose to be optimistic? Why, for example, can you not tell yourself: I'm tired of feeling lonely so I'm going to get some help with my social anxiety? There are folks out there who are trained in managing social anxiety either via medication or therapy or both. Even meeting with a kind and insightful therapist could help you start to feel less lonely...to start feeling connected and understood.

Once you get the social anxiety under control, then you can start to build some connections in your life. There are lots of ways to do that including volunteer work.

If hope really is an illusion (I don't think so but let's imagine that it is) then I'd rather live all my days in a hopeful illusion as opposed to telling myself that I'll be miserable from now until the day I die.

You always have choices. If they are not apparent to you, I think you would benefit from professional help to identify your options.

You mention "successful" people vs "failures." People are much more complex than that, surely? I am a product of my successes AND my failures. At the end of the day, I don't view myself or anyone else in those all-or-nothing terms, I am a person who deserves to be happy. I live a life of intention. When I am not happy I find ways to be happier...it's not easy or fast...I just chip away at it...I'm also not seeking a perfect life...but a good and kind life with some fulfilling work and fun activities.

Are you familiar with self-fulfilling prophecy? Research indicates that it is a real phenomenon.
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Old 12-30-2018, 07:31 PM   #8
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Do you mind sharing how old you are approximately?
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Old 12-30-2018, 07:39 PM   #9
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There's a really powerful documentary on Netflix called 'Happy' which I recommend. I've watched it twice and used a notebook to make myself notes. Researchers present findings on happy people (and unhappy people) from all over the world.

Here's the really hopeful message:

About 50% of a person's happiness level is genetic
Only 10% is related to income level/lifestyle

That leaves 40% that is under our control The documentary lays that out in more detail than I can here but a lot of it is about intentional activities...exercise...helping others...novelty etc

When we aren't happy, we can work on our happiness skills to improve them... just as carpenters work on their carpentry skills and athletes work on their running time etc
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Old 12-30-2018, 07:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Could it have been different?

Where I live it's not easy to see a therapist, and they are not included in the insurance. I tried to read books about how to overcome social anxiety, and other books on how to connect with people and make friends, but nothing worked. There are many factors that we don't have control over, and influence our lives. If we reset the clock and the same exact conditions for everyone, most likely most people will make the same choices again. I used this argument to say that what we do now is not a choice. In science there is something called the optimistic bias. People are biased to be optimistic, and to see the reality better than it is. Unfortunately, I don't have this bias, it seems. I agree about the self-fulfilling prophecy, but again, being hopeful or not is not a choice. If you were hopeful because you have a bias, and you made choices based on it, then your life would be different than if you didn't have that bias.
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