Dilemma: What control do you have over your life?
If you treat the future as something definite, it makes sense to understand it in advance and to work to shape it. But if you expect an indefinite future ruled by randomness, you’ll give up on trying to master it. An indefinite attitude to the future explains what’s most dysfunctional in our world today. Process trumps substance: when people lack concrete plans to carry out, they use formal rules to assemble a portfolio of various options.
You can also expect the future to be either better or worse than the present. Optimists welcome the future; pessimists fear it.
Combining these possibilities yields four views:
- Indefinite pessimism
Today pessimism still dominates huge parts of the world. An indefinite pessimist looks out onto a bleak future, but he has no idea what to do about it. Such people react to events as they happen and hope things do not get worse. The indefinite pessimist can’t know whether the inevitable decline will be fast or slow, catastrophic or gradual. All he can do is wait for it to happen, so he might as well eat, drink, and be merry in the meantime.
- Definite pessimism
A definite pessimist believes the future can be known, but since it will be bleak, he must prepare for it day by day without considering if his hard work could be managed somehow. People with this type of mentality save everything they can and hope it will be enough. They take the future deadly seriously.
- Definite optimism
To a definite optimist, the future will be better than the present if he plans and works to make it. Definite optimists continue steadily to remake the face of the world. Planning helps them to go ahead. A definite optimistic future needs engineers to design the progress (underwater cities, settlements in spaces etc).
- Indefinite optimism
To an indefinite optimist, the future will be better, but he doesn’t know how exactly, so he won’t make any specific plans. He expects to profit from the future but sees no reason to design it concretely. He prefers to keep options open. Since tracked careers worked for these people, they can’t imagine that they won’t work for their kids too. Indefinite optimists tend to overrate the power of chance and underrate the importance of planning. An indefinitely optimistic future calls for more bankers and lawyers rearranging what was already invented.
Do you prefer to control your future from now on?