Lost in a world of limitless possibilities

Some days ago I came across this sentence on a different blog here on (can't quite remember who wrote it) and somehow it stuck with me.

It seems that our generation's greatest advantage presents also one of the largest problems. If we live in a world where we are free to do anything, then this freedom can become a burden to us. Because once we are free to make our choices, it also means we are ultimately responsible for what we are doing with our lives. If we are free to do anything, then we are responsible if we are living a life that we do not like.

In some sense, though not enjoying the quality of living that we have today, our ancestors had it easier when it came to making decisions for themselves. You just did what everyone else in your town and village was doing. The people you could compare yourselves to, and had to compete with, were restricted to whoever was in your geographical location. There were fewer people to envy, fewer people who could put up a sharade of being OK. You worked whatever it was that your father and his father did before you.

Nowadays, you are not competing with some people in your village, but you compete with people from all around the globe. You can travel wherever you want fairly quickly and are able to work wherever you want to. The limitless possibilities, paired with the relentless image crafting on social media makes us a society always afraid of missing out.

So, to echo whoever wrote this sentence some time ago: Yes....sometimes we can feel incredibly lost in this world of limitless possibilities.

On being tested and evaluated

My boss called me to his office today, and told me that he wanted to promote me to a new position. If only I was qualified.

So, over the course of the next week, I will start working in my new capacity and during that time I will be evaluated, judged and monitored. At the end of the week, a verdict will be given to me. Either, my performance will have been up to speed, or it won't.

Now, in many cases in our life, our performance will be scrutinized and evaluated and depending on the outcome, our life changes – for better, or for worse. This, also, seems like a natural part of life, the categorization of people into different levels of competence. Starting from only a few days after we were born, until we die, we continue to compete in a hierarchical system of competence.

If I should fail, someone else will get the job – if I succeed, someone else will not get it.

Sometimes the “ratrace” can be tiring, but while we are still on this planet, I don't believe that there is a way of escaping it. We are all part of it, and even the most egalitarian of religions have masters or saints.

The only thing, no matter what we do in this life, is that in the end, we all end up at the same place. The grave. There, all judging, evaluating, comparing, analyzing and competing ceases. There we are at rest.

Today, my thoughts turned to an (admittedly) small part of game theory.

I thought about the zero sum game.

I realized that much of how you perceive the world, how you perceive wealth, inequality, first- and other world countries, rich and poor is dependent on whether you think that global wealth is a zero sum or a non zero sum game.

In other words, do you believe that there is one cake, and whenever my piece is getting bigger, someone else's is getting smaller, or do you believe that the cake is able to grow? And why should that matter?

It does, because if you believe the first one, you believe that the wealthy, the ones who get ahead in life, as they say, do so at the expense of others, since there is only a limited amount of wealth available. If this is you, you might think that (forcefully) redistributing the wealth of the world might be a viable option.

If you in camp two, however, you probably believe that wealth is not redistributed, but created. That it is actually possible for all to have more, for all to prosper, without redistribution. That by having a proper understanding of the world, and behaving oneself in a matter that is “right”, prosperity can happen for everyone.

While these few words do not do the difficult topic justice, I feel that the second option is probably right.

I believe wealth can be created and that wealth is not a zero sum game.

Sometimes I wonder why it seems to be the human condition that so many people have to work jobs they hate just to get by. Bleak faces, empty stares and glares abound. Everyone is worried, stressed out and living for the weekend and holiday it seems.

This is a terrible way to live.

Work seems to be an integral part of what it means to live as a human being, a necessity of sorts. This poses some questions about contentment. Is it necessary to have a life that is “fulfilling”, whatever that means? Should one not just be grateful to have a job, food on the table and a roof over one's head? Is there something deeper?

Or is the supreme purpose of life simply to pass on one's genes?