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Adulting and the Multiverse of Choices

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September 20, 2021

As a child grows and matures, one of the key things that change in said child’s life is the sheer amount of choice and responsibility — for the outcome of said choice — placed on the child. Choices are made and/or options are limited for young children; from as little as what to wear out, to as far-reaching as a choice of environment.

As such, one of the key characteristics (or tenets) of adulting or “gaining independence” is an increase in available choices. From scientific research, we know that this increase in available options can be counter-productive, and lead to unhappiness. Two key reasons for this Paradox of Choice are Analysis-Paralysis & Buyer’s Remorse, and these would be our focus today.

More often than not, adulting humans would want to make decisions or choose options that would result in positive (or intended) outcomes. They generally tend to have an aversion for mistakes (i.e. making choices that would not produce their desired result). A choice is defined as good/right if the choice creates the intended effect/outcome within the intended time frame. Making these “right” decisions with increased certainty requires information/counsel. Hence the phrase “make an informed decision”.

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. — Proverbs 11:14

However, in the increasing number of counsellors/voices, and amount of information available and consistently produced (including this article), it has become possible (if not given) to find different information from different sources, with “valid logic”, that support both sides of an argument, or support “all options on the table”. This multiplicity of opinions and “research-based” information can result (or has resulted) in a “multiverse of madness/choices” (feeding Analysis-Paralysis), leading to increased uncertainty (feeding Buyer’s remorse) and increased unhappiness on the path of adulting/gaining independence.

In such cases (which is almost all cases), context becomes key — as one man’s meat can be another man’s poison. You would often find decision-makers, searching for information that speaks to their unique contexts — and rely more on information that matches their contexts as closely as possible. One thing to notice with the phrase “one man’s meat, another man’s poison” is that the item referred to as meat/poison does not change. It is precisely the same thing, the same decision, the same action — but it would produce two different results for both men. The item or thing is not as important as the state of the man. We see a classic example of this in Romans 14:20, which speaks literally and figuratively to meat.

All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. — Romans 14:20B

We see that the thing does not change, but what defines said thing as meat or poison, pure/good or evil, is the nature/context of the man — as this would determine how said thing interacts with the man to produce an outcome.

So here is the big question.

Who provides the context of your life? What is the reference point for desirable and undesirable for you?

What determines what you like? What determines what you should pursue? What information feeds your wants, tastes and desires? Your parents? Your friends? Society?

In the answer to this question, lies two things:

1. A compass that provides a sure and steady reference point, eliminating the need for counsellors on both sides of a debate and reducing analysis-paralysis.

2. Inner peace against buyer’s remorse, knowing that the choices you make are well-informed, and are the optimal choices for your life.

The answer to the question is quite simple. The Creator provides Context

The creator provides context for the created or his/her creation; the definition of good and bad, desirable and undesirable.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations. — Jeremiah 1:5

Let’s take a gun-maker, who builds a gun to shoot through a 6ft thick brick wall. If the gun, on the field fails to hit its target on the other side of the brick wall, to the gun-maker, that gun is bad, as it does not fulfil the purpose for its creation — even if it goes 5.9ft into the brick wall, further than the regular guns would go. Other guns may “clap and applaud it”, but from the reference point of the maker, the gun did bad. To the gun, it may have been desirable to just go into the block by 3feet, if other guns only went 3 feet, you know “maintain the status quo”. It may also have been desirable (to the gun) to raise the standard and go into the block by 4 feet. (“at least it tried”) — a feat that would generate applause from other guns. In both cases, to the maker, the one who had a reason and purpose for making it, the only legitimate provider of context for the gun, to the gun’s creator, the gun missed the mark.

A classic example in the early church is the story of Apostle Peter and Cornelius, as seen in Acts 10:9–17. The passage details Apostle Peter’s trance. We see how the Jewish Law/Tradition was Peter’s reference point concerning definitions of clean and unclean: what is desirable to eat as meat, and what is undesirable as poison. We see how this, albeit “accurate” from the perspective of Jewish Law, deviated from the creator’s intentions and context and needed to be corrected. From reading the entire section we also see that this was a depiction of Apostle Peter’s ideologies (at the time) concerning bringing salvation to the gentiles.

As you go into the week, a week full of choices from your waking breath, to your closing hours, I would ask that you remain conscious of your Creator, the only legitimate provider of context for your choices and desires, the source for the definition of good and bad for you. I would ask that you apprehend the reason for your creation (or apprehension) that would give your life much more depth and meaning that can be found in this ever-changing world, and make adulting much easier.

Do have a blessed week!

Itoro Nehemiah

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