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Why did the chicken cross the road?

Life is a fascinating and complex adventure, filled with opportunities and saboteurs.
So how does a highly educated, free willed individual navigate this roughly 80-year puzzle before we get the tap on the shoulder? 

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First, let's not be so pedantic and quibble about the free will argument otherwise we will never get off the ground. I am just making a goodwill assumption that we all have free will; that is, the ability to act at our own discretion.


In between our first breath and our last, there are so many experiences that we would have encountered for the first time. Perhaps you do not remember your first step or first word but seeing another child’s would have inspired you with a sense of awe that you were once like that child.

As our brain develops at an incredible rate and we learn about ourselves, those closest to us, society and the world, we are learning schemata of life.


What is so fascinating about this? How about the chance of you being born is 1 in 400 trillion and that your brain will have developed to 90% to its adult size by age 5?


No? Have you ever wondered whether what you know about the world is truth or how do we even construct the world that we live in?

According to Choice Theory, psychiatrist Dr William Glasser explained that we collect information about the real world from the stimuli captured by our sensory system such as the eyes, nose, ear, mouth, hand etc. These stimuli then passes onto the perceptual system or knowledge filter to make decisions about the information.



To keep it simple, the knowledge filter will discard the information if it is not meaningful to our current or short-term situation. If it has some usefulness but it is unsure of the degree, a closer examination will be beneficial. However, if the information is useful then it will move along to the valuing system to determine whether it is positively, negatively or neutrally meaningful to us at the time. Therefore, it is important to note that the same stimuli can have different value (importance) depending on our situation.


As we spend more time being acquainted with the world around us, the amount of stimuli that we have to filter becomes extremely complex. Not only in magnitude but also variance and dissension. The more people we meet, our understanding of common traits deepens but so do the conflicting ideas and information about people and the world in general. The possibilities for problems, adversities, struggles, excitement, opportunities and choices increase exponentially and specifically for each individual that we meet throughout life. This makes life a complex adventure, filled with opportunities to learn, discover and experience.


 

So what happens when the world expects too much of us? I mean, when all the gurus are telling us to get up at 4am, to hustle, to grind and to sweat, blood and tears if you want to “make it in life” and we get to a point where we feel overwhelmed. Not because we’re not trying our best. We have jobs, families, roofs over our heads and food on the table, but our best efforts can never seem to meet these "gurudean" (I’ve just made that up) expectations.


Why do we label ourselves as failures? Did you define what “make it in life,” meant to you?

I want to take a moment to interrupt this with a reminder. There are different versions of this going around but essentially, they all highlight the same point. When we compare the raw footages that is our life to someone else’s director’s cut or their sizzle reel, we become criminals capable of committing the most heinous crimes to ourselves that only our own mind can justify.


We allow plundering and pillaging of joy and gratitude from our lives, kill our own dreams and cause emotional genocide to the people closest to us. We reduce ourselves to building and living inside flimsy chicken wire coops and closing ourselves off from excessive external stimuli, pressures or complexities.

 

From this enclosure, we become disillusioned by its protectiveness from the external world. The cacophony of good and bad ideas, advices and nudges liberally plied to coax us away from our sacred geometry. We are not aware of the potential dangers posed by the rapidly rusty and corroded wires to our lives- that the foxes and raccoons of the world can still get in, chase us around and play for keeps. We revelled in having the power of choice to leave this comfortable space if we wanted to; however, our ego often sacrifice this option while fuelling our reactivity to these external stimuli. At some point, a spark will cause the ignition in our biases to blow our self-confidence and dreams to smithereens.


The wise chickens would have realised that the integrity of these wires are vulnerable to attacks and decay. They could have been broken at any time and the cage had never protected them from the elements or anything else in the first place so they left and set out on an adventure and eventually crossed the road.


In every iteration of why the chicken crossed the road, how many of them were harmed on their journey? Now imagine yourself at the end of your road. Would it have been worth it if you had defined your own success, challenged the gurus and left the cage for a road crossing adventure or stay cooped up hoping to be on the dinner table?

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