Indirect control

How much control do you have on your life?

That is a question asked by many behavioral scientists and psychologists. It is not easy to answer.

At a superficial level, the control could seem substantial. Once it is determined where and when one is born, who is one’s family etc., it feels that one has free will and lives consciously.

Or does he?

At a deeper level, one theory is pretty discomforting. What if we are mostly guided by an emotional system that we develop over the years, by experience. What if this template that we form by continuously interacting with our environment becomes who we are and dictates what we do at all times.

This would mean that if we had lived in a different environment, we would behave differently. We would become a completely different person, even perhaps a different society. Hence, it is possibly the environment that defines who we are, not ourselves.

The upside is that humans have some control over the environment. By giving it a desirable shape, we can indirectly form ourselves.

In fact, that is what we have been doing for thousands of years.

Here is an excerpt of a speech by Prof. Antonio Damasio on the power of emotions.

The whole interview can be found here.