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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life of No Regrets

After establishing the importance of a choice made, let me present the case that it is no one’s fault if a rational choice, as is the case more often than not, results into undesirable consequences.

At every point in one’s life time, one is faced with multiple mutually exclusive choices and makes the choice which is the optimal based on the forecasts of consequences following each choice as projected from current circumstances. Hence, even if a choice results into unpleasant consequences it is not one’s fault in making the choice, as more often than not one makes consciously the most optimal choice for the given circumstances (circumstances is a broad term encompassing a situation’s various aspect – information/ guidance available, level of experience, vision, risk – return profile, resources available to execute the choice and the expected consequences of those choice). So, irrespective of the outcome, don’t regret on a decision taken or choice made that is rational.

Now let’s analyse the “what if” case, ‘what if I had made a choice different than what I had actually made” to compare the consequences following each of the two choices:

Let’s say, at some point in your life you had four mutually exclusive choices A, B, C and D and out of many consequences following one of the four choices, one specific consequence could be one of the W, X, Y or Z, respectively, based on the choice taken.

Now, suppose that based on the circumstances prevailing at the time of making a choice among A, B, C and D, you found that the choice A was the optimal choice and one specific consequence out of many would be W. There is no guarantee that at a later point in time the actual consequence of A would or not be W, i.e. A might or not lead to W. Continuing with this example at a later point in time, let’s understand two major hypotheses.

If you are thinking, ‘what if’ I had chosen B and it would have resulted into X, which turns out to be a more desirable consequence when combined with other consequences resulted from A, and then it doesn’t work that way for at least two reasons as following:

Comparing imaginary Vs real: While you had chosen A there was no guarantee that it would have definitely led to W, how you can be so sure that had you chosen B it would have resulted in X. What you are actually doing is comparing a real set of incidences and events, i.e. choosing A and its consequences that have actually occurred, with a total imaginary set of consequences which you have no clue about how they would shape following the choice B.

Changing the choice might lead to a change in all the consequences following and not in a single consequence only: For a second let’s even assume that A has led to W and B would have for sure led to X. Had you chosen B then all other consequences following B could have been different than all other consequences following A and among these different consequences following B, X might not have been more desirable than W among the consequences following A. Just go back to the time of making the decision between A and B, wasn’t this the rationale of consciously choosing A over B that you forecasted all the consequences of A and B and analysed if W is more desirable among all the consequences of A or X is more desirable among all the consequences of B.

Irrespective of the outcome don’t regret on a decision consciously taken or choice consciously made that is rational.
What if scenario doesn’t apply because it would lead to comparison of real incidents with pure imaginations.
What if scenario doesn’t apply because specific consequence of another choice might not be more desirable among the set of all consequences of the other choice.

Time Travel Test
Let me make your life a little easier, ‘what if’ you go back at the time of making the choice (taking the decision) and you are faced with same set of circumstances (as defined earlier in detail), would your conscious choice or decision would be any different. NO! Let me assure you, faced with exactly same circumstances, you would take exactly the same conscious decision.

Important Note: A further dissection of analysis into analysis by mind and analysis by heart leads to the most important result that even though the ‘Life of no regrets’ theory might be very well acceptable to mind but the heart, who hears no logic and just feels (at time bleeds due to the consequences following a particular choice), might find it difficult to accept the decision which might have actually been the best decision as analysed by the mind for the given circumstances and (heart) will always pull you towards the feeling that probably the decision you took was not the best one.

Acknowledgement Note: All those who confronted while accepting the theory.