Certainty of Misery

Jun 25, 2024

When making life decisions, such as choosing where to live, what work to do, or what subject to study, humans often fall prey to a bias that blinds them from making the best choices.

It's the bias for certainty.

As Virginia Satir aptly put it: "People prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty." This certainty in misery often comes in subtle forms. It's not that you're expressly suffering from the certain path you're choosing. Rather, it's in the ordinary, subtle ways something tells you that you could become more, do more, be more. It's a quiet voice that's too soft to prompt you to make a change, so you stick with what you know. All because of the inner fear of the unknown.

The people who create the life they want and touch the world in creative ways are those who learn to overcome this bias. They're the ones who conquer the deeply rooted fear of uncertainty. Misery will come, especially when you choose the uncertain path. But the payoff is so much higher. To evolve as a person, the uncertain way is what builds character. It's the path that gives you real experience, with real skin in the game. It creates the scars and wounds that shape your character - the things that make you who you are. There's no substitute for going through this. There's no substitute for real experience.

Ultimately, this is a process of maturing. In life, you'll face decisions that challenge you: stick with the certainty of misery or dare to cope with the misery of uncertainty? Life will test you, again and again. Until one day, you dare to make the jump. And that's the day when your life truly begins.