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  • Seyran Maryam Khalili

The choice of a preferred future

Today we are surrounded by a postmodern world – often defined as the new period of significant change in western society - the reality is no longer determined or fixed.

Photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Everything is relative to one's viewpoint or stance. One of the main characteristics is that the world is seen as a much more complex and uncertain place. In turn, this has given rise to changes in many aspects of society – solid truths have no longer value. In these terms - individualism has been lifted as the "social norm" where the "I" always comes first. The blasted need for self-exploration has today become an ongoing lonely quest. A kind of modern "pilgrim" journey if I may say. One must "find" oneself as if one is lost somewhere between heaven and earth – or in modern terms: somewhere between what I can become and what I am.

Your life is already chosen

Think of it. You were born to this earth. You are already chosen. One of the reasons is that we live in a time where we value free will and liberty - more importantly, fighting and struggling for it. Becoming who we want – when we want – where we want – to make it simple, whatever we wish to. This freedom both gives you a boundless universe of choices, but I'm sorry to say – reality doesn't. Even though we are only blessed with one life (by the powers of the universe invested), it seems as we are negotiating with our fate to be given a dozen. Faced to make significant choices in our lives, we are more likely to face big identity problems. Thorn between what we want, what we dream for - the big question; "what is my place in this world?" doesn't make it any simpler. Many go through seven seas and still can't find their place. Have we become products of the postmodern world, or are we the creators? When did self-exploration become a destiny and not a path to clear thought?

Whatever difference your choice in life might have made, the only answer one should ask is this; have you chosen a course that leads to a destination that matters most to you? Different paths may be equally essential but taking one that is "travelled less by" can enable you to become a pioneer in your life.

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Why Humans Seek a Preferred Future

To find out what one is fitted to do and to secure the opportunity to do it is the key to happiness. Nothing is more tragic than failure to discover one's true business in life, or to find that one has drifted or been forced by circumstance into an uncongenial calling. A right occupation means simply that the aptitudes of a person are in adequate play, working with the minimum of friction and the maximum of satisfaction. - Dewey, Democracy and education 1938 [1916], p. 360)

Why search for a different path if our lives ahead are already transparent? There is a simple bias in this way of thinking about the future. At the centre of all lies not a quest for a preferred future but seeking meaning in life. There is a price to pay for all this capability for reflection. It is yet both a blessing and a curse, one that is at times inescapable to become stuck in. With each review over the "what if" comes a need for a justification. There is a need for an answer to the question of "why".

People from all ranges of work often discuss a somewhat dissatisfaction in their work area. These could be jobs ranging from pre-school teachers to PhD-doctoral fellowships, to the techie in the consultant firm and the start-up founder… you see the bright gloomy picture? Be whatever the work fields, the experience is all but the same. Did-I-take-the-right-decision? What-if? Is it perhaps a question of the eastern versus western culture mindset? Although we may find some presence of meaning in life, we are a work in progress as human beings. This is the joy of being a human – to fundamentally know that there is always room for improvement. This is also the fundamental belief in the psychology of humanity that we can evolve, be better, do better, change, grow and learn. The confidence that people can change and entrusting that process. So how can we then establish this safe space for welcoming change?

René Magritte: Ceci n'est pas une pipe

The question of representation: A shift from seeking opportunities to creating them

Looking back at the path that's led me to where I am as a writer, I often considering myself not yet having written my best. "I'm not quite there yet," says the little pushover on my left shoulder. I'll give it another shot. 'Achievement motivation' is a syllabus subject in the finishing course I once took whilst I was writing my masters dissertation in organizational psychology. The topic recently lapsed into my mind again like a big bubble of gum getting stuck into my every being. In a broad sense, it's defined as an individual's need to meet realistic goals, receive feedback, and experience a sense of accomplishment. I've always had this attitude that if I put my mind to something, I can master it. I wish to become one with the object. Sometimes not knowing which comes first, me or the 'je ne sais quoi' result that's about to go out of my effort.

I may have finally understood what Rène Magritte meant when emphasizing that words and images must be freed from 'the obsessional urge to give meaning to things to use them or dominate them'. Magritte was influenced by the surrealist movement emerging from Paris and believed that our language does not act as a picture of facts but is instead a reflection of games. "This is not a pipe," says the picture above, reflecting on the notion that what you see doesn't have to be what you claim it to be. In this sense, the knowledge of words is not equal to the use of words.

We usually attribute resemblance to things that may or may not have a common nature. We say, 'as alike as two peas in a pod', and thus we say, just as quickly, that the fake resembles the authentic. This so-called resemblance consists of relations of comparison, whose similarities are perceived by the mind when it examines, evaluates, and composes. The likeness is not concerned with 'common sense' or defying it, but "only with spontaneously assembling shapes from the world of appearance in an order given by inspiration" – René Magritte.

Throughout my time developing my writing, I can only say that I've become more interested in the actual art of writing. Writing lets me fall into the transition of being in a state of "flow" and in a psychologically safe space. As Elizabeth Gilbert puts it, this is when my "elusive creative genius" dares to come out. I write not as Seyran Khalili, the person, but as Seyran Khalili, the writer. Because it is a craft - and by creating this psychological distance, it nurtures and protects the art. It comes out in an entirely different shape, and form than our cognitive mind first thought of because our elusive thoughts shape and form it. Bold enough to cut through the shyness of the world. Daring to unfold, it's mysterious.

Photo by Drew Tilk on Unsplash

Your Questioning Of Choices Makes You Modern

A decade ago, Virginia Woolf wrote, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction". This she wrote as she was at the peak of her modernistic era surrounded by the avant-garde notion of innovative and experimental writers. Today that quote struck my mind as I am now writing about the choice of preferred future. The mere joy that's been hitting me for the past month has been how privileged I am to have this choice. Although we like a certain envisioned future, whether this is a realistic possibility right now, we must move away from the obstacles ahead and turn these into opportunities. This is precisely what Virginia Woolf did, way ahead of her time. Throughout the different theories, one learns to see that nothing is ever fully explained. There's always another way to see the ordinary things in life, claim them, and conceptualize them.

Photo by Gauravdeep Singh Bansal on Unsplash

When future choices are aligned

"I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day" – James Joyce

So, what does Woolf really mean about a room of her own? It could first be a fictional, virtual room where one has a place to write, to ponder about life immense totality about all or nothing. However, it could also be an indication of a more elegant room of solitude. A room for change. A place in mind where one is free to think differently and have space enough for new reflective thoughts to enter amid everything else one is surrounded by daily. But also – a room in society to welcome something different.

People can chase many paths towards different destinies far off in the future, but behind pursuing each course lies ahead obstacles. With this choice comes responsibility and goals that need to be aligned with our basic need for well-being and meaningfulness. When the plans are not aligned with our inner needs and dreams we wish to pursue, there is a void left in our souls. Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday waking up, this void of ours has now increased to an ill-being.

Choose your preferred future wisely – those futures that are aligned with your stars. Aligned with your basic needs of autonomy, where you blossom, flourish, and where your well-being is put first. Even if you do achieve a set of certain goals you put for yourself, if these are not aligned with your basic needs, it can in turn, make you feel worse – even when you reach them.

Thank you for your attention my friend




Seyran Khalili is an Associate, and graduate student of Organisational Psychiatry and Psychology, at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London. She is an author fellow at the Futures of Man community. You can follow her on Instagram @Seyran.Khalili and twitter @SeyranKhalili.

Future you will thank you. What do we mean by this? Well, it’s simple by manifesting and visualising the ‘future-you’. Magritte was fascinated by the seductiveness of images. Ordinarily, you see a picture of something, and you believe in it, you are seduced by it; you take its honesty for granted”. Magritte knew that representations of things could lie. The images aren’t men; it’s only pictures of them. It makes us aware of the falsity of representation and aware of the power of manifestations and visualisation.

Photo by Art Lasovsky on Unsplash

This won’t work unless you do. The things we want most - health, happiness, wealth, love - are governed by our ability to think, feel and act. By caring for our core needs and nourishing our truth, we can start over and re-write our preferred future. Now it’s time to become the master of your destiny, by each letter written on a blank canvas letting you one step closer to where you want to be - and who you want to be.

Photo by Magic Bowls on Unsplash

An empty pot makes the loudest noise. Let me reiterate about nothingness without end. Nothing can mean so much more. By referring to the never-ending infinite and incomprehensible depth of our existence, an existence we as humans cannot even being to comprehend except through study, deep meditation, and focus. Therefore, the term “nothing” is widely used as a meditation concept, a focal point to help direct thoughts.


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