What if we stopped thinking about the future…about consequences…about what ifs…..
We revel in futuristic forward thinking. A lion hunts when it is hungry. Once it has eaten, does it worry about its next meal? Does it ponder if there would be any more watering holes left due to global warming and therefore would there be anymore deer left to hunt? It eats and then digests that meal. It acts on the next meal plan when it get hungry again. The key word here is ‘acts’, not ‘thinks’.
Does forward thinking actually change the way we behave or even our decisions? For every point we stand on in the present there are infinite possible out-spokes. Myriad possibilities of which our own decisions and behaviour play but a very small part.
As an extreme example, take the case of a terminal disease diagnosis either for oneself or someone close. The mind immediately spins of various scenarios. Scenarios of the person suffering to various levels, scenarios of the person dying in these many days or months. Scenarios of how the person dies, where the subject is when that happens and infinite scenarios of life after the loved one passes. However, at least in this extreme example, the subject has absolutely no control over one suffers or when one dies. Which is true even if one decides on the level of treatment. Even if the treatment is terminated, the process and timeline of the process is completely out of one’s control. So what was the point of the brain’s exercise on coming up with all the possible scenarios?
At times as these, the brain seems to be obviously on an auto-pilot mode. How much of this thinking is voluntary or conscious? Is there a subconscious engine that drives the thoughts and we are but aware of the tip of the iceberg?
The human mind entwines itself with possibilities and outcomes. It gravitates towards what if scenarios, Towards increased tangential thinking, towards extrapolation. towards stress. How is this adaptation? What evolutionary advantage can this possibly have?
Or has our tangential forward thinking mind detached us from the evolutionary process?