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Simple Decisions: What if?

 
 
Reply Sun 16 May, 2004 01:24 am
I'm not real sure this is where this topic belongs. It's kind of along the lines of if you believe that "everything happens for a reason" and the ability to always find the good when bad things happen. I find myself oftentimes wondering, even obsessing about the simplest decisions that I have made, even though there is nothing I can do to reverse them. This post is kind of just to get input on what everyone thinks, as well as give examples of the simplest decisions you've made that affected the rest of your life, even have some fun with the "what if I had chose something different".

For example:
6 years ago I went to a bar with a Steelers jersey on (in missouri) and there was this guy with a steelers coat on, we started talking football, and discovered other things we had in common, we ended up having two children... what if I had just worn a tee shirt?
Can something as simple as deciding what to wear affect you for the rest of your life?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,919 • Replies: 26
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JustanObserver
 
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Reply Sun 16 May, 2004 01:44 am
At the end of college, as a gift from my family I took my last 3 credits abroad in Spain.

I met a beautiful Russian girl, had a passionate relationship, and before I left for home, she told me if I wanted to, I could live at her apartment in Spain with her for a while. I loved the country, thought she was great, but like a fool, I still came home on the flight that was already scheduled.

I often think of how differnt my life could have been had I stayed over there with her. There is a good chance I would still be there now had I taken that opportunity Crying or Very sad
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Terry
 
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Reply Sun 16 May, 2004 03:43 am
Yeah, I have played the what-if game. What if I had gone camping as planned that weekend instead of volunteering for the job where I met my future husband?

Does everything happen for a reason? Or, as I suspect, does stuff just happen, compelling us to invent reasons why in order to make our lives seem preordained, guided, purposeful or anything but a series of random events that cannot justify our sense of being special to God or the universe?
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JustanObserver
 
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Reply Sun 16 May, 2004 08:47 am
Terry wrote:
Does everything happen for a reason? Or, as I suspect, does stuff just happen, compelling us to invent reasons why in order to make our lives seem preordained, guided, purposeful or anything but a series of random events that cannot justify our sense of being special to God or the universe?


Stuff just happens, man. No real rhyme or reason to it. Whats to say you wouldn't have met another guy who would have become your husband had you gone camping ?

As for the second part, looking for a sense of being special to "God or the Universe" is a sure ticket to dissapointment. Hate to tell ya, but in the grand scheme of things, we're really not all that special. Just live life to the fullest and enjoy.

But I digress. Back to the "What ifs...."

One more-

What if I didn't spend the last 6 years of my life with my (now ex) girlfriend? I've turned down so many opportunities to get into new relationships with beautiful women, all to stay with someone who turned out to be all wrong for me. Shoot, I could have been married with a kid right now !
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cavfancier
 
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Reply Sun 16 May, 2004 09:56 am
My take on the 'what if' debate is that most of us share the same joys and traumas in life, and could be equally joyful or miserable in any given situation or relationship, so it's best not to question why you made certain decisions in the past. It's best to deal with making a future of your present.
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perception
 
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Reply Mon 17 May, 2004 07:45 pm
Soserene

You bring up an interesting topic wich deserves some discussion. Let me give a true scenario which I as a grandfather am constantly fearfull of: Imagine 3 teenagers making a decision to get in the car with another teenager who has just received a convertible from his mother as a graduation present----30 minutes later they were all dead. Racing at night and the driver lost control, rolling the car several times.

There is a study by neurologists which establishes evidence that the decision making process in all people is not complete until age 21-----how do we keep them alive until that time? This process is controlled by the prefrontal cortex of the brain and through the functional MRI they can trace the process.

I think there is not any training program that I am aware of which attempts to teach the consequences of daily decision making-----daily decision making can be and should be taught in a participatory setting to demonstrate the consequences, not merely the process. Any thoughts anyone
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Mon 17 May, 2004 08:23 pm
Welcome back, perception!
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perception
 
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Reply Mon 17 May, 2004 08:43 pm
Thanks Joe----I have missed your rather large intellect. That's not mere flattery-----merely recognizing a fact on my part. I'm reading a biography of Alexander Hamilton and I had not idea of the huge intellect he had and the rare opportunity to use it to the fullest. Too bad he was so sensitive to insult.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Mon 17 May, 2004 09:23 pm
perception wrote:
Thanks Joe----I have missed your rather large intellect. That's not mere flattery-----merely recognizing a fact on my part.

Obviously, we need more astute people like you around here, perception.

Thanks for the kind words.
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perception
 
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Reply Mon 17 May, 2004 09:32 pm
OK---enough of that blather. Give me your thoughts on the process of daily decision making. Would you agree that it is something most people never consider as being important and then of course there is the fact that you must believe in free will otherwise it is moot
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Mon 17 May, 2004 10:05 pm
Hi, Perception, good to see you back.
I hate to be a party pooper, but from my perspective "what-if thinking" can only have value if hypothetical scenarios are compared for some practical reason--to learn some kind of lesson about hypothetical possibilities. Otherwise, when done at some "existential" level, what-if thinking it is a kind of insanity (better, unsanity). What has happened is the ONLY way it could have (not hypothetically but actually) happened, BECAUSE THAT IS THE WAY IT DID HAPPEN.
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perception
 
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Reply Mon 17 May, 2004 10:11 pm
Hi JL
Yes I know and I agree with you----I was attempting to take the discussion to the next level because hypothetical thinking generally leads nowhere.

I've been fascinated by the complexities of everyday decision making and the consequences and soserene's thread reminded me of it. I'm just enough of a reductionist to make something out of nothing I suppose.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Tue 18 May, 2004 08:33 am
perception wrote:
OK---enough of that blather. Give me your thoughts on the process of daily decision making. Would you agree that it is something most people never consider as being important and then of course there is the fact that you must believe in free will otherwise it is moot

People don't really think about the act of decision-making unless they make a bad decision. Then it becomes somewhat more important.

And all people believe in free will. Even those who think that they are strictly determined believe they came up with that idea on their own.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Tue 18 May, 2004 10:39 am
So, I guess I'm thinking that "what-if" hypothetical thinking is valid and useful when planning for the future, but it is unsane and useless when applied to spilt milk.
I agree, Joe. I've said that when we look back we see that determinism is the case, because the present condition HAS resulted from past conditions, but in looking at the future we are "free" to define and select between "options." But nevertheless, we feel free. We may not "believe" in free will--at the explicit level of philosophical discourse--but we tacitly/implicitly assume freedom. If not, we would be paralyzed.
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Letty
 
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Reply Tue 18 May, 2004 01:45 pm
soserene, I don't mean to deviate from your "What if" thread, but I was caught up in the decision making aspect.

Kurt Levin has made a wonderful contribution to the world of social psychology in his postulation of decisions and choices.

Approach/approach--two excellent things and the decision of which to take
Avoidance/avoidance--Two negative things and the decision to accept the lesser of the two evils
Approach/avoidance--one negative; one positive and the decision to do nothing or do everything

....and then there's Hobson's choice

As far as the "what if..". My neighbor just recently ruptured an achilles tendon--went to the emergency room. He had to have surgery, and in the process--he was found to have an occluded aorta. The angio gram showed the artery to be hair sized. He then had the stint procedure, and looks and feels great. He truly feels that had he not had the tendon problem, he would have died from a major coronary.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Tue 18 May, 2004 06:19 pm
Achilles tendon killed him; your friend's saved him. Go figure.
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Letty
 
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Reply Wed 19 May, 2004 11:07 am
JL, I didn't quite understand your response.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Wed 19 May, 2004 11:41 pm
I'm not sure myself. Embarrassed
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Letty
 
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Reply Thu 20 May, 2004 09:23 am
Very Happy well, JL, that was refreshing, and I needed a small smile today.

What if my neighbor hadn't ruptured that tendon. Today he might be dead.

That's a precis! See?
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kitchenpete
 
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Reply Thu 20 May, 2004 10:02 am
Regret or wonder over past decisions serves no useful purpose other than to inform us as to future decisions.

From Maud Miller, a poem by Johan Greanleaf Whittier:

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"


However, if we can be comfortable that the decisions we make are based upon the best of our knowledge and understanding at the time we make them we should not kick ourselves for having made the "wrong" decision in retrospect.

When it comes to wearing a T-shirt with a logo or otherwise, soserene, it probably never crossed your mind that it would be significant...maybe you'd have met your man anyway...maybe you'd have had equally great life experiences if you'd never met him...who knows?

Living with your sights in the rear-view mirror leaves you no chance to assess the view from where you are or the prospect of what's ahead. Worth checking, every now and again but not all the time!

KP
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