A Changed Woman

One hundred years ago, I wouldn’t have written this book. Instead, I’d be raising ten kids, milking cows, ironing sheets, sewing on buttons, and baking apricot pies. One hundred years from now, I probably wouldn’t have written it either. By then, most people will know that free will is a myth and illusion. The word will be out. Meanwhile, I feel blessed to know the truth ahead of the curve. Here are a few ways my edgy grasp of free will has transformed me:

I’m more aware of you. Knowing that people don’t have free will has made me more tuned into their joys, sorrows, ambitions, upbringing and past experiences. I care more about what makes people tick.

I blame others far less. I’ve stopped knocking others for having different values from my own. Instead of criticizing people, I look for positive ways to assist them on their (healthy) paths.

People annoy me far less. When someone irritates me, I remind myself that he or she (like me) has no more free agency than a hurricane. This thought comforts me.

I puff-up with pride less often. I still enjoy taking credit for my accomplishments, but have noticed that my feelings of pride often shift to gratitude. I feel blessed to have a brain that enables me to accomplish things and grateful for the hundreds of people and products that assist me along the way: my husband, parents,  friends, teachers, culture and computer…

I adore the law of cause-and-effect. I’ve become a huge fan of causal chains. I often think about steps/links that lead me from one person to another, one event to another, and one place to another. I’ve grown to appreciate that, moment-by-moment, things can only turn out one way—and what’s done is done.

I regret less, feel less guilty. I worry less about my screw-ups and am less apologetic and self-accusatory. I understand that my brain’s choices have a long (mostly mysterious) history and, next time, it may choose a more effective plan of action. Or not!

– Cris Evatt, from The Myth of Free Will, revised and expanded edition, pp. 135-7.