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Change Your Paradigm – Embracing Uncertainty

by on January 26, 2013

in Change Your Paradigm

Change your paradigm

There’s more to life than the American Dream we’ve been sold. In this series I present an alternative way to view the world and your surroundings. There is so much out there to experience, enjoy, and incorporate into our lives. It’s all there for the taking, but getting there is the hard part. In this series I show how to to change your paradigm to give yourself a fighting chance of taking the path less less traveled to live up to your potential. How you act on what you discover is up to you, but I hope you take your own plunge into a happier and healthier life.

Uncertainty

Western society doesn’t value uncertainty very much. Or, let’s say that it over-values decision-making. Having the strength and determination to make decisions apparently shows leadership skills.

Does it really though?

I don’t know. Sometimes things need to be left to marinate. It obviously depends on what the subject matter is. If it’s pondering what’s for dinner or what to do for the weekend, fine, short time horizon. But if it’s what to do with your life, or whether to get married, or some of these big decisions.. What’s wrong with pondering?

Western life is quite difficult in this sense. You go to school, then at 18 you either start working or you pursue higher studies. Think back to when you were 18. What did you know? Maybe you knew more than me, but I think back to how ignorant and clueless I was about everything, yet I had to make a huge life decision as to what to study and in which direction I want to focus my life.

In this regard, I like how some countries have a “gap year” culture. This gap year could be the year between high school and university, university and starting a career, military service and university, etc. During this year people backpack in places far from home, volunteer in another country, or volunteer/intern at home somewhere to see if they like a certain career. Seems like a win-win situation and they can get to know another part of the world better if abroad, but in all cases get to know themselves better before making life-changing decisions.

Going back to uncertainty, it just seems like many of the people I know who have everything “figured out,” having minimized uncertainty as much as possible, lead the most absurdly boring lives imaginable. And apart from being boring, they often are the least equipped to adapt to or respond to change. It doesn’t fit with their very controlled and predictable way of living.

I write this post to say it’s ok to live with uncertainty. It’s ok to ponder the big stuff and not have the answers. It’s ok that the pile of stuff you don’t know seems to grow faster than the pile of stuff you do know. That’s how it’s supposed to be. It just means you are alive and actually living. Exploring the unknown makes you grow. Controlling the known makes you boring and probably unhealthy.

When you touch your neck or wrist to take your pulse, do you worry between beats? There is uncertainty there. How do you know if your heart will beat again? You assume it will despite having no control over the situation. Yet it doesn’t even concern you. You have faith in your body and your heart.

Take Your Pulse

Likewise, uncertainty is the pulse in a vibrant life. Have confidence in your ability to digest, accept, and act on the opportunities life presents. Don’t get caught up as much in making the optimal decision; rather enjoy the ride these decisions take you on.

When I was miserable in Denmark, this was one of the first things I had to go through as part of my corporate tool to nomadic idealist transformation. At first I was upset by the fact that I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t happy. I had to forgive myself for not having all the answers.

You know what that did? It took the pressure off!

With the self-imposed pressure and anger gone (and spirits elevated), the more I sought answers the more I seemed to find them. It’s not magic. It’s just that through compassion we often find the best results, and it’s not easy to extend that compassion to yourself.

So, change your paradigm when it comes to the world of uncertainty. It’s not a bad thing despite what society says. Every innovation throughout history was born out of uncertainty. Embrace uncertainty in your own life story. Don’t be afraid. Let go of the societal and self-imposed pressure and see where it takes you. Welcome it actually, as certainty keeps you going with the status quo and uncertainty forces you to progress toward where you really want to be in life.

Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone

Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone

About Adam Pervez

In mid-2011 I left my cushy corporate job and took the plunge into a life incorporating my passions of traveling, writing, volunteering, learning, educating, and telling stories. I study what happiness means to others, offer what I can from my engineering/MBA background as a volunteer, and try to leave each place better than how I found it. Read more.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria | Acceleratedstall January 26, 2013 at 10:58 am

I think pondering and experiencing are great ideas. I couldn’t afford a year off but I did take a couple after High School to just work and that helped me to be a much more serious student when I did go to university than if I had gone straight from one to the other. Like viewing art, travel and work can help to firm you’re opinions and view or challenge them completely. Either way is good, there’s no wrong answer.

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Adam Pervez January 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm

I don’t advocate a year off or doing what I’m doing. Just to not be afraid of uncertainty! :)

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Itzel January 26, 2013 at 8:58 pm

I am learning to live with uncertainty and accepting the fact I don’t have all the answers and that it is ok that at this stage I don’t know for sure what I want to do! But at least I know I didn’t want to keep on doing the same I was doing before, so I left and I am now in my “gap” year, trying new things and dropping those I don’t like, as I won’t settle with doing something because ” I ought to” rather than because I want to. It is very uncomfortable sometimes, but as you said, it is out of your comfort zone where magic happens! Thanks for sharing your travelling experiences!

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Adam Pervez January 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I think you hit the nail on the head here. One need not have all the answers, but should always be in search of them. If this is the same Itzel I know in Madrid, then we can talk about this cara a cara in Madrid in April :)

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Owen Lipsett January 27, 2013 at 2:31 am

Thank you Adam! I like the way you make “uncertainty” into something positive and empowering by suggesting we embrace it. What you say seems very related to the Buddhist concept of non-attachment. This in turn made me think of the way many young men in certain Theravada Buddhist countries (Thailand and Laos in my experience, but I’m guessing Myanmar too) ordain as monks for a period in a similar way to people else taking gap years. I wondered if you’ve found that people in these countries treat uncertainty differently from people in the West. Here in Korea, people’s attitudes toward life goals and making decisions seem just as focused on certainty as in the U.S., if not even more so.

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Adam Pervez January 27, 2013 at 10:42 am

Yes, that’s a great point. I think it was Laos where boys at age 15 had to join a monastery and be a monk for a certain amount of time. But when forced, if your heart isn’t into it you won’t get as much out of the experience. Still, I don’t know if they can really appreciate the difference as they’ve never seen the often unfulfilling Western lifestyle. I feel like people in these countries are just calmer and have more inner-peace, even in a megapolis like Bangkok. So I don’t have a good answer for your question, but I think calmness is the way to approach life, and calmness makes uncertainty much easier to handle!

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