Updated: Jan 20
Feller: "To the untrained eye, randomness appears as regularity or tendency to cluster."
Since we are born, our ancient brain has been programmed to look for connections and patterns. We like to understand things around us and contemplate why this or that happened and come up with explanations and causations that may or may not be accurate. That is how we stayed alive back in the prehistoric days; however, is this thinking providing more benefit or harm to us?
As Daniel Kahneman writes: "We are pattern seekers, believers in a coherent world, in which regularities appear not by accident but as a result of mechanical causality or of someone's intention. We don't expect to see regularity produced by a random process, and when we detect what appears to be a rule, we quickly reject the idea that the process is truly random. Random processes produce many sequences that convince people that the process is not random after all. You can see why assuming causality could have an evolutionary advantage. It is part of the general vigilance that we have inherited from our ancestors. We are automatically on the lookout for the possibility that the environment has changed. Lions may appear on the plain at random times, but it would be safer to notice and respond to an apparent increase in the rate of appearance of prides of lions, even if it is actually due to the fluctuations of a random process."
I strongly suggest reading the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. It explains so much about how we think and how our biased experiences and thinking confuse us and deceive us. What can we do about this reality of randomness? What would happen if we freed ourselves of this strong belief in mechanical causality and instead realized that the vast majority of the world and things that happen to us are mostly random? Would we take things that happen to us and the world around us less personally? I have been thinking deeply about this and find this realization very freeing. If the vast majority of the things in the world are truly random and not caused by "this or that (whatever our mind makes up)," then really, all we have to do is focus on how we react. This realization is a reconfirmation that all we have to do is concentrate on the one present moment and figure out how we want to deal with what is in front of us. As Viktor Frankl says: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
To bring in an analogy from my tennis life, I elevated my tennis game to another level when I started focusing on hitting the best possible shot when the ball was on my racquet. That's it! It's that simple. You might be thinking, duh? What else is there to do? Obviously, that is the only time you can influence the rally and the point - hitting the best shot you can every single time the ball touches your racquet. Why would life be any different?
In tennis and in life, we create all these visions and plans of how things should/ will/ may play out, and with that, we start setting our own expectations. Then, when the game/ situation/ life doesn't play out the way we expected it to, we are disappointed. We often fall into our own pitty party declaring that the world is against us and/ or judging ourselves about all of the things we have done wrong and should have done better. Or we blame others, and we start asking, "why us?" Why did this person do this to me? Then, drowning in this deep search for "why" like a scuba diver without an oxygen tank, we start spiraling deeper and deeper into our mechanical causalities and forget about the fact of randomness.
How can we stop overacting and pay less attention to much of the stupidity that is going on around us? How can we start living more freely with the realization that much of what happens to us and in this world is random? Wouldn't this realization free us up from a lot of useless thinking and worries? Imagine how much freedom and time one could gain that can then be used more effectively, for example on preparation. Prepare and create the best version of yourself to become a resilient and strong human that can handle any challenge that life throws at you because life is random, and you never know what is coming your way. Claim the realization of randomness! Feel it in your bones! And now, from that place, what do you want to prepare for?