Cause or alchemy

We can regularly default to believing things happen because of some cause or because of a result of some alchemy. There’s merit to both approaches.

When we explain every little thing as the result of a cause, we’re able to understand how to influence the world around us. “Why are you feeling good today? Because I took good care of myself over the past month and slept well last night.” “Why is the business doing well? Because we hired a great team and trained them to do their jobs well.” And so on. The flip side of these explanations is that they’re regularly too simplistic and often boring.

On the other hand, explaining everything as an alchemy makes it all feel like magic. “I don’t quite know how it all works that way. Of course, we brought together a great team and trained them well. But, the way they work together and make our business run is magic.” While a fascinating way to approach life (since it calls out every day miracles), it has its issues when overdone. We can easily bring ourselves to focus on everything we don’t control.

As with most such choices, there’s tremendous wisdom in the middle ground. Make sure we understand the causes while also appreciating the alchemy. There’s definitely plenty we influence. But, once we do our bit, there’s also plenty of magic in our daily lives.

We just have to learn to look for both.

  • Luke Miles

    This makes me think of the Daily Three Gratefuls practice, where each day you say three things that went well and their causes. It might be “I finished my python tank game because I drank delicious coffee beforehand and my friend Brian helped me.”

    The thing is, you never really know the causes of anything. Maybe it would’ve gone well anyway if you didn’t drink coffee. I think this practice trains us to recognize what causes are real (because you see over time which causes are common). More important, it gives us the impression (illusion?) that wise decisions early in the day or week or year make your evening better, and that helps us make the smart decisions.

    Thanks for the post, Rohan 🙂

    • Haha. Nice. Thanks for sharing Luke!