Behavior and Consequence
Learning from Correlations
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | November 2016 (edited 2018)
Life is complicated. Correlations between behavior and consequence are not always clear.
Human behavior is best understood through correlations; not exact equations. Very seldom does the simplicity of algebraic rules apply to real life situations. Equations such as behavior (A) equals consequence (B) fail to calculate the complexity of our lives. The equation more often resembles something like, behavior (A) tends to lead to (B) as long as (C), (D), or (E) are not present; even this is a gross simplification. Simplified truths can’t express in a few lines, chapters or even volumes the dynamic functions of living. We are left to ponder the the many implications of complexity. "Will this behavior lead to that consequence?" For those of us that like to ruminate about the past, "I wonder what I could have done different to achieve a better outcome."
With almost every discovered correlation between an action and consequence come countless exceptions that deviate from the rule; but exceptions don’t invalidate a rule—exceptions simply remind of complexity, encouraging skeptical evaluations, warning of the dangers of inflexible dogma.
I believe in self-empowerment. There’s a tangible correlation between people believing they have power to direct their lives and their enjoyment of life. However, the correlation doesn’t suggest complete control. We are responsible within notable limitations. Many happenings are the consequence of wise or foolish behaviors; but many other events occur because of unknown and outside factors—we may be innocent victims. Often life-changing moments that are not of our choosing; they just happen.
Self-empowerment isn’t an omnificent power to direct the universe. The universe follows its own rules—not ours. We have limited control. We must direct action in response to unpredictable and often annoying circumstances. The opinion, whether consciously chosen or not, that we control our environments is egotistical and demeaning, dismissing the importance of others; but many of us believe it. We judge others solely on how their action impacts our minuscule existence.
Self-empowerment, while it doesn’t control the universe, does constructively and purposefully respond to events. In the unpredictableness, we find strength to adjust and adapt, utilizing what is given as the material to build our personalized kingdom.
If we believe we have a choice or believe we have no choice, our subjective experience supports that belief. Those that believe they have no choice thoughtlessly suffer to the vicissitudes of life, blown to and from with the direction the wind. However, when we courageously believe we have choice, we engage experiences with flexibility, adjusting plans with creative thought, utilizing experience to catapult us towards desired destinations. We become the captain of our ship and the authors of our destiny. We may not choose the direction or force of the wind, but we skillfully and smoothly adjust the sails, capture life’s energy, and move in the direction of our dreams.
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