Perception and the Illusion of Control

We tend to think of ourselves as Masters of the Universe and captains of our own fate. We spend most of our lives planning a fantastic future which may actually never come to fruition. We make decisions and take risks based on the assumption that we have control over where our life takes us.

Through it all we are never satisfied. We are constantly searching for the best version of our future life by looking for the “perfect” addition to our plan. We look for the perfect school, the perfect degree, the perfect job, the perfect salary, the perfect spouse, family, kids, dog, car… see where I’m going. Don’t you? We’re always looking for something more under the false perception that A. We can have it all, and B. We’re in control.

Clearly, I’m not a nihilist. I won’t say you have no control in life, but I am a bit of an objectivist on this point. I don’t think we have nearly as much control as we like to believe. Most of our desires and wants in life are well outside of our actual control. We seem to erroneously believe the world will behave in ways that benefit us. We act as if the universe is required to adhere to our cleverly crafted plans. I get it. We create plans so we can earn the rewards we so desperately want. It’s really just a recipe for disappointment though. I’m not saying you need to stop planning. I am saying we need to set reasonable expectations. There’s no guarantee we’ll wake up tomorrow, but that also doesn’t mean I stop paying my bills today.

There’s a fine balance I think we can strike if we stop looking for a perfect life, and start enjoying the life we already have. If it gets better, enjoy those perks. If it gets worse, create moments you can enjoy. No one controls your perception in life if you keep an open and cautious mind. Accept both disappointment and reward with equal caution. Don’t be lured into a false sense of security nor desolation.

  • Nothing is ever as pleasurable as we imagined and things are rarely as terrible as we feared.

Few things in this world are solely under our personal control. Life constantly throws us about with little regard to our own plans. However, we do get to choose how we respond to the uncertainty and disappointments we experience. Do we choose to become victims of our circumstances or champions over the obstacles in our path?

This choice is always available to you. No one can force you to surrender. Just as no one can force you to struggle and overcome your hardships. Your victory over difficulties is never certain, however, your loss is guaranteed if you choose the easiest path. Surrender will not lead to victory.

We have the ability to stop at any given moment and change who we present to the world. We can stop giving up in the face of difficulty. We can choose to struggle on. We can stop seeing the world as as hostile place out to destroy us. We can focus on the truth that the world is fairly indifferent to most of us. Our perceptions create more hardships than we actually experience.

  • Change your perception, and you can change your response.
  • Change your response, and you can build a different future.

Even the best plans can prove ineffective and lead to your ruin. Don’t let your happiness rely on these external things. Plan with care. Do your best. And live well regardless of how things turn out. Being content is a choice. Don’t let others take that from you.

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