What Iffy

No matter how confident we want to be about a course of action, we can all sometimes feel a little “what iffy.” It’s natural, because before we collapse the wavefunction, there are anywhere from dozens to even thousands of plausible choices and their outcomes, yet we’re going to move forward down but a single path. You stare at the fork in the timeline and it’s only natural that your mind asks “what if?”

Let’s say someone offers you a bet: roll a single die, and choose either the group of numbers 1-5 to bet on, or the number 6. Pay a dollar to bet, win a dollar if you win. If you choose to bet on 1-5 and the die comes up 6, you were still correct to have bet on 1-5.

Why? Because you can’t change the past nor predict the future. Knowledge of present outcomes can’t be handed backwards through time, so it was correct when you made the bet to make the choice that most likely led you where you wanted to be. There will always be outliers. Don’t let that frighten you – instead, let it comfort you. Things are just as likely to randomly work out in your favor as not, so when it comes to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune you might as well just take it as it comes.

Productively use your “what ifs.” So many people ask that question, but don’t actually try to answer it! “What if I don’t get this job,” someone says, wringing their hands and sweating profusely. But they stop there, totally paralyzed. Well… what if? What would your next step be? Go that extra few paces in your mind and the worry often vanishes.

The answer to “what if” is always the same. The universe will continue on, and you with it. You’ll make new decisions and choices and the endless pattern of your life will stretch out to the horizon, just as it always has.

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