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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 26 – Pivotal Moments

Whoa it’s been a while since I’ve written one… well not really but it feels like ages. So if you haven’t heard I’m on iTunes now! Just search “Philosophy is Phun” and BAM!! I’m right there it’s like magic. So subscribe, download, rate, review, the whole shebang.

Today I wasn’t at school for long because of the robotics competition today and it was really interesting and I met a lot of smart people. I also had some cool conversations too and one that stood out was with Jason Lee during lunch about a whole bunch of stuff and one topic in particular was about how a lot of things are relative. I was going to write about that but then I had a sudden inspiration about pivotal moments that got spurred by the realization that I HAVE SAT’s SATURDAY! The time has finally come and it made me think that the results of my SAT’s can be very influential in my college acceptance and therefore in my future. This is what the note will be about so get ready! (Note: This note is semi-opinionated too so don’t get offended by my views)

So as you know SAT’s are this Saturday. Your scores on these tests can possibly play a very pivotal role as with many colleges, it is the second thing that they look at after your transcript and if you don’t make it past a certain score then you get canned. It is depressing that your whole future can possibly boil down to how you performed on a test on one day. Luckily you can take it multiple times and they are gradually becoming less influential in the college selection process. This made me think about the things we do every day that play a role in what our futures shape out to be. If you are a believer in free will then you will come to the conclusion that every action you take plays a role in how your future will turn out and then in turn play an influential part in your everyday life. What you are capable of achieving allows your potential outcomes to be chosen from a wider range. If you can get a better SAT score than someone else you most likely have a wider selection of colleges to choose from who will accept you than the person who scored lower. However, this isn’t a definite rule and as with most rules there are exceptions. For the most though, it can be said that the more capable you are the more opportunities are available to you.

With the opportunities presented to you, there also come choices as well. These choices force you to make a decision about what further action you’re going to take. There are sometimes when you can accomplish everything without sacrificing one choice over the other but there are a lot of situations where the phrase “can’t have your cake and eat it too” is applicable. This is where the opportunity cost comes in. With every pivotal moment presented to you come choices where you have to weigh the pros and cons of the possible outcomes. If you are presented with a once in a lifetime chance at an amazing job you’ve always wanted to do, you also must consider things like the time constraints it will place on your life and other aspects that will help bring you to a realistic conclusion on how you should live your life. If you choose to take the job and it comes with so many catches then you probably wouldn’t have made that decision if you knew the full story. There are pivotal moments that have huge impact on your life and therefore causing you to take careful consideration when making a decision. Doing good on the SAT’s will probably impact your future more than deciding to get a new hair cut will. These high impact decisions will most likely cause stress because you get a better feel for how the results will impact your future. You start to fear the worst because there is a possibility that if you fail the SAT’s then you won’t get into the college you dreamed of and ruin your future. While this is possible it probably isn’t likely and you won’t completely ruin your life forever. Regardless, when faced with a high impact moment, the pressure isn’t usually far behind. You get nervous for fear of making a wrong choice and not achieving an optimal result and by this thinking you psych yourself out leaving yourself more vulnerable to choking when the actual moment comes.

There is a difference with the SAT example and getting your hair cut. This is because the SAT’s are based upon your abilities while your hair cut is more dependent upon a decision. With decisions we are usually always capable of making all the choices and options available to us. We can decide whether we want to get a haircut or not and usually are capable of reaching both decisions unless there are things like monetary constraints. With the SAT’s however they are dependent upon your performance and with performances you can’t always achieve the desired results. Sometimes you have an off day that can severely limit your capabilities and in turn affect the results of a pivotal moment. When making decisions, it is easier to reach the desired outcome more than opportunities and moments that are dependent upon your abilities at a certain place and time.

Like with the off day example affecting your performance, there are also factors that can affect your decisions. Sometimes your decisions aren’t solely based upon what you believe is right but is dependent upon the situation and time in which you make the decision. A good example are spur of the moment decisions that aren’t based upon long term considerations and solely made because you were motivated and determined to travel down a set path when the time came to make the decision. This can lead to many undesirable outcomes that aren’t really the paths you would have wished to travel down. Alcohol and drugs also affect our decision making abilities. Other things like peer pressure also play a role in altering own abilities to make our own decisions. The decision to have sex just because you were intoxicated leaves repercussions that you might have not expected or wanted like maybe a child or STD that will limit the opportunities available to you in the future.

High impact moments aren’t the only situations deserving of the opportunity cost judgment because almost everything you do has an effect on your future and can create new paths or outcomes your wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. For instance, you decide to go to a party hosted by a friend you don’t really know that well but you end up meeting your future wife there that you wouldn’t have otherwise or you decided not to take a plane that ends up crashing. If you die then that sure limits your other potential outcomes for you to live and experience in the future. While these situations are hypothetical, they still are possibilities that are always present in today’s world. This is what leaves me to the conclusion that almost everything we do and situations where we can diverge from a set course are pivotal moments.

If you look at every decision you make as having the potential to change your life forever, then you will most likely consider other outcomes you could have taken leaving you with a sense of regret for not experiencing the other paths. This is especially present in situations where the outcome isn’t what you expected or desired. You would want to reverse time and remake your decisions knowing how one of those decisions would result in an undesirable outcome. As with the previous examples, they are what we call “what if’s.” There are possible outcomes that could happen if you decide to take a certain path or do a certain action. They make you think and possibly believe that you could improve your current situation leaving you with a feeling of regret with the choices you made in the past. I believe reviewing the past is important in respect to learning from your past mistakes, but in situations where it leaves regret, reminiscing is usually the wrong course of action to take when you could be doing much more productive things. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it and you should learn not to regret because, one you will be much happier in life and also not limited by what you can further achieve. If you always dwell in the past you are spending your resources like time in ways that will only make you sad. Sometimes you get second chances that allow you to basically relive and remake decisions but they are too rare in order to rely on them. For this reason you should only look forward when making decisions because they will allow you to get a clearer view of what you should do in order to get to where you want to be.

On a little tangent I believe that everything you do basically sets your life down another path and in turn puts a parallel universe in motion. I believe that there are basically infinite parallel universes that are based upon the different choices we could have made but didn’t, even down to the most minute thing like there is a parallel universe for just one displaced hair. When you are at a pivotal moment where you have multiple outcomes I believe the time stream splits off into multiple universes. Just my opinions and my outlook on pivotal moments and hope you enjoyed so rate, comment and subscribe to the blog, podcast, and YouTube videos!

-Allan Nicholas

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