Our life is the set of choices we make. It is a road full of intersections in which we direct the direction according to our nature. But are we really sure we can choose? Living in the West where individual freedom is at the center of contemporary thought, where there are no dictatorial impositions that impose on our lifestyle makes us think we are free to choose. But is it really so?
According to the psychological analysis of Jonah Berger, most of our choices are actually dictated by the society around us without us noticing. We believe in choosing, but in fact, we follow the invisible current in which we are immersed.
Each of us finds himself in the balance between two thrusts that apparently drag him in opposite directions, one is to stand out from the crowd to emphasize his own identity and personality, the other is to integrate and feel part of a group or collective without being excluded. In fact, we end up indulging in trends unknowingly. How to dress, what music to listen to, what TV series to watch, what books to read and even your own work: all these decisions – according to Berger’s thesis also taken up by Oliver Burkeman in his italics on The Guardian – are taken for social conditioning and not autonomy.
Even important and personal choices such as choosing a child’s name end up falling within this logic. Everyone believes to give their son an original name, perhaps not too strange, and then discovers with great surprise that many children born at that time are named after him because the name was evidently in the air. Our political positions are also strongly influenced by preconceived positions expressed by parties, movements, and personalities (opinion leaders) in which we identify or trust. The tendency to be right or left would be influenced by the family, following the family tendency or opposing it.
But the fact that our choices are strongly conditioned by the environment and not taken directly by us is not necessarily bad. Many people struggle with the burden of making important decisions, such as which faculty to choose or what job to look for; knowing that your choice will not particularly affect the outcome of your life could alleviate the “pain of living”.
For every decision we make we give up many other options, but in the end, our life probably doesn’t change that much, because our disposition, the society around us and the time we live in are not parameters that we can change. As in the 90s film Sliding doors, in which Gwyneth Paltrow’s life changed whether or not she managed to get on the subway, the change is mostly illusory because in the end what the protagonist is induced to do will lead her to the same ending, whether take, whether I lose the metropolitan one.
Friedrich Nietzsche had already reached a similar conclusion in Ecce Homo when he spoke of Amor fati or the serenity that derives from accepting what happens to us knowing that for a large part it is not determined by our actions. Not that this task is easy, so much so that Nietzsche himself went mad before being able to reconcile himself with his destiny, but his message remains prophetic.
Needless to worry about a wrong choice made in the past, probably things would not have turned out differently. What sense does it make to worry about your daily choices?