Certainty and uncertainty are the two ends of a see-saw. Core human needs. Our two million year old brain has adapted to require just the right ratio.
Have you ever watched something you have already seen to avoid choice? Or used the phrase “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” to justify behaviour.
It’s just a film or Tv show why does it matter, why does it bother us?
Certainty is why we watch things twice. We like knowing it is good. We just hope we have forgotten enough of the plot to make it exciting.
This is not simply a modern problem.
Our Palaeolithic ancestors would use the power of uncertainty. This instilled fear and the promise of food would fuel their hunt. Combined with the dopamine hit; the sense of accomplishment on a successful return.
The Neanderthal is now flush with dopamine and a sense of certainty. Certainty that the tribe will live to survive another day.
Too much certainty and we’re bored. Friends will say a show is predictable or every episode is the same. Although sometimes we feel this would be enjoyable. It is unlikely we would enjoy total control.
Imagine knowing what your friends would say, before they said it. There would be nothing new or exciting. No challenge or obstacle. We would simply know what to expect in each moment.
It is our moments of spontaneity, where we are able to truly be ourselves. We disconnect from past and future and just be. In the moment.
Have you ever ridden a bike down a steep hill?
What did you think about ?
As humans we enjoy extreme sport or pushing to our limit in activities. If we are uncertain and our activity requires extreme concentration. This flow state pulls us into the present away from past and future.
Too much uncertainty. The see-saw tips past it’s critical point. Fear kicks in. Our brain responds to the situation in fight or flight. This is our brains effort to survive.
When the world falls apart we question our survival.
“These are unusual times”
“These are challenging times”
“The situation is unprecedented”
All of these are true. The uncertainty is enormous. It might be the first time in our life history that we have experienced this level of unsettlement. The see-saw has past the critical point.
In life our problems fall into two categories. We can put them into circles. The circle of concern and the circle of influence. In the circle of concern sits things like global pandemics. In the circle of influence sits things like social distancing
washing ones hands, and turning off the news. Working solely in the circle of influence will bring you certainty.
Uncertainty will still exist. It is a see-saw. This uncertainty is constantly changing it is spontaneous. This is where humans thrive, in that space between past and future . We are a resilient species.
So I challenge you, human to human. Turn off the news. Create certainty with things you can influence.
Welcome the spontaneity.
Use this uncertain time to embrace, to live with passion and to make progress.
Michael and The Chaka Team