The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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The Liberation of Choice

October 7th, 2012 by dimpledbrain

When the master says the first step is to build choices, I thought hey, this guy’s onto something. It took me some time to digest his words. Building choices is different from making the right choices. He, of course, is none other than Richard Bandler, the co-creator of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Many people, including myself previously, may think that the secret to happiness is to make the right choice in order to get the best outcome as frequently as possible. The less mistakes the better. But this way of thinking has a glaring weakness. When the law of large numbers (i.e. repeating the iteration many times) catches up, this thinking will lead to sheer disappointment. Why? Because it’s just not humanly possible to hit the bull’s eye 100% of the time.

I suspect this is what many accomplished people know already, albeit unconsciously. (Click here for the conscious competence theory). Observe this for yourselves – and see how these people will think in term of ‘what are my alternatives now’. They don’t get frustrated, they don’t feel trapped. They just move on and feel indifferent.

Previously we talk about setting our purpose (click here for the post). In my mind, it then follows it is the pillar of choices we build that will sustain this purpose. Great people always know what they want to achieve, (i.e. what is my purpose now) and they will put in the hours to achieve it (i.e. one option from the many choices they build). Note how this choice building and purpose setting revolve around the theme of perseverance.

Building choices means granting ourselves the privilege to experience a complete set of emotionsWe allow ourselves to feel great when we achieve a milestone victory. But equally important, we do not allow temporary setback to distract us from our goal. We simply give ourselves the choice to feel indifferent and move on. Just like how we give ourselves the choice to feel great when we succeed, we must also give ourselves the choice to feel indifferent when we fail temporarily in moving toward that direction. Note how we shouldn’t give ourselves the choice to feel frustrated, trapped or disappointed when we fall short of our target.

The point is after setting our purpose, we should build a list of choices that will guide us towards that direction. This is very different from being persistent, something that I think is very much overrated anyway. Being persistent may well lead to the boiling frog syndrome. (From Wikipedia: if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death). Please don’t try this at home.

Naturally, one may question the need to build choices. To which I think naturally, one will only feel great when success pours in but vice versa, one will feel disappointed, frustrated or trapped when things don’t fall into place like how we want them to be.

Hence the need to be liberated by the choices we give to ourselves.


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