How Much Does Your Past Determine Your Future?

It is tempting to think that your future is laid out in front of you. Anything is possible, given the proper choice in the current moment.

However, that is not true. In reality, choices made in your past determine which choices are available to you in the present.

For example, the decision you made in third grade to play trumpet in band class means that today you won’t be auditioning for a drummer in a rock-n-roll band. Or, perhaps, your choice to major in English literature means you probably won’t be getting a job at NASA as an engineer.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘How do you show thanks?’


Of course, there are exceptions to this. All the time, people end up in careers that have little or nothing to do with their college major. Throughout your life, you can choose to take up a new hobby. You might go back to school to learn something new.

However, it is true that at a young age, it is easier to learn new skills. Appropriately exposed, young children find it much easier to learn multiple languages than as an adult. If you learn to ski at a young age, your muscle memory is more ingrained than later in life.

Can you think of moments in your life where you choose a particular path that helped determine how things played out for you? Are there times in your past life that a different choice would have opened up — or closed — other options for the current you?

Similarly, there are some choices that you might make right now, in the present, that will determine what possibilities exist for future you. How might you make decisions now to best benefit your future self?

The actions you have taken throughout your life might have consequences for you now. How much does your past determine your future?

Related questions: What is time? How have you changed? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned? What do you wish you had learned as a child? Will the future be better than the present?

Democracy Or Tyranny?

Democracy or tyranny?

Democracy Or Tyranny?

What Masks Do You Have?

Masks are now a fashion statement. Since there are so many people making masks, they come in just about any design you might want. Perhaps a mask with a logo of your favorite sports team? Or your school’s colors? What is on your mask?

Share why if you wish.

Special thanks to Dave Anderson for the question.

What Can You Control?

Sometimes we feel the need to be in control of a situation. Often, we are confident in our own abilities, and doubtful in others’.  But how much control do we actually have?

We have the most control over ourselves. I can decide what time I go to bed, what food I eat, where I live, and the people I choose to surround myself with.

Controlling others is more difficult, but it can still be done. Through persuasiveness, persistence, or even intimidation, we can exert some level of control over our family, friends, neighbors, or community.

There are people who need to feel that they are in control, of themselves or situations around them. It can produce feelings of anxiety or discomfort when people feel they, or things around them, are out of control.

For example, this is one of the primary reasons that people love automobiles. You can leave whenever you want, and go wherever you want. You have the ultimate choice of your entire environment: the music on the radio, the temperature, windows up or down, how fast you go. Even people who don’t like to drive enjoy the flexibility driving affords them.

But how much control do we really have? To return to the car analogy, drivers are at the mercy of a number of factors beyond their control, like traffic congestion, poor road conditions, pedestrians, tolls, and more. Other drivers on the road might cause an accident or a traffic jam, on in general drive unsafely.

Moreover, the flexibility gained by driving creates restrictions in other regards. Cars can be very expensive, with gas, insurance, repairs, parking, tolls, and taxes, in addition to the large cost of the vehicle itself. The loss of financial flexibility when owning a car is considerable. Most people are willing to accept that trade-off, but it is there regardless.

In general, we are often at the mercy of other people, or even of unpredictable events or situations.

Do you feel the need to be in control? What can you control?

Related questions: How much of our thoughts are our own? Where does authority come from? How has luck shaped your life? Free-will or predestination?