I’ve often wondered if life is a series of choices that we make, or if life is a predetermined track and we are all on autopilot; gliding through experiences only believing that the choices we make are indeed ours. While the former seems preferred, I find the thought of the latter comforting. Mostly because if you mess up, you can blame it on whoever set you on that track in the first place and then all responsibility is lifted off your shoulders.

But that doesn’t sound realistic.

I’ve been reading an interesting book called The Compound Effect which explains that small, daily choices and changes you make can have a profound impact on your life. Noticeable changes won’t occur that day, not in 10 days, not even in 10 months. Sometimes, you don’t see the changes until years have passed; but by that time, the change is significant and life altering.

I really like the book; it is insightful and motivating and gives one a sense of self-control and the power to do anything that they want. However, I find it somewhat unrealistic. Mainly because I don’t believe people can change who they are. You are always going to want what you want regardless if it is good or bad for you. Regardless if it is the right or the wrong choice.

But that begs the question of whether we have choice or whether “everything happens for a reason”. Because if everything happens for a reason, then even poor choices have a reason.

Does that make any sense?

I recently watched a TED talk that examines the impact that body language has on your brain. Standing up straight in a victorious stance for a couple of minutes every morning should supposedly send confident chemical messages to the brain and reduce cortisol which causes stress. This could be a breakthrough in the business world; imagine if managers required their employees to do this before meetings and other serious dealings? Would employees contribute more? Would they be more confident; soaring with a rush of testosterone? Would production and enagement rise and the disengaged worker disappear? If the study holds true, why am I not walking into work each morning observing my colleagues in power stances?

Because the results of this study are irrelevant. I can go a week of power-stancing, maybe even a month, but at the end of the day I am still going to be me and will revert back to what I know and what is comfortable.

Really, none of this matters. It is all life, and life is going to keep going regardless of what I think and feel. Regardless if my actions are the result of choice or the result of my predetermined path.

However, it is always fun to wonder.

Until next time,


One thought on “Changes

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  1. From Steinbeck’s East of Eden (Lee has been studying three translations of the Cain and Abel story. I looked up the passage in my Hebrew Bible, and he is correct. It’s the word on my wrist.):

    Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”

    You’ll always be you, but consider how much you different you are now than you were 10 years ago. How have your thoughts and habits changed (or stayed the same)? If nothing else, “timshel” reminds me that I have a choice.


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