Episode from the podcastLeaning Toward Wisdom

Wouldn’t It Be Great If…? (Season 2021, Episode 5)

Released Monday, 15th February 2021
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I stare out the window. The trees have dropped all their leaves. Fall fell. Now it's winter. But I'm in north-central Texas so that isn't quite what it is to you guys who live in Canada or Minnesota or Maine. I'm craving a change of scenery. Not just the kind nature provides, but the kind that puts your head into a clearer space. 

So away we go to a spot we often frequent. About half-a-day away by car. Not bad.

Piney woods. They affect me in the most positive way.

Here I am sitting on the covered back porch with an overhead radiant heater. It's chilly, but I'm comfortable. I'm staring at a golf course, the 6th hole. I've got a clear shot of the tee boxes and the green. Almost a straight-on view, which allows me to track the balls the golfers hit from the tee.

I've been here before. Back in the summer when I didn't need a heater. Or flannel shirts.

It was then, during the summer, when I told my wife, "I could spend quite a lot of time here." She immediately responded, "Yeah, I could, too."

Then we engaged those dreaming wheels in our heads. They're not really just dreaming wheels though. They're more like pondering wheels looking for a path forward, working out a way to make it happen!

You daydream. Imagining what it might be like to be in your favorite place. Maybe a beach. Maybe mountains. Maybe lakeside. Your mind drifts to your life and where you're at versus where you'd most like to be. Some success that isn't reality. Yet. Some achievement that's unrealized. Some lifestyles you don't currently enjoy. You ask yourself the same question you've asked most of your life.

Wouldn't it be great if...?

Wouldn't it be great if we had a lake house?

Wouldn't it be great if our business were twice as big?

Wouldn't it be great if we got a new car?

Wouldn't it be great if we got married?

It's a question we ask ourselves about anything and everything. Like a can of lighter fluid on our wildest dreams, we engage parts of our brain that feel like we've neglected for too long. We easily embrace it and go with the flow of imagining what life might be like if our hypothetical were real.

Wouldn't it be great if...? 

You'll never say, "No, it wouldn't be great."

Your mind will always think, "Yes. Yes, it would be great."

Because during such times, in our head we work things out so everything works out beautifully. No snags. No problems. No downsides.

We do the same thing with the choices we didn't make but wish we would have. We assume the choice we didn't make would have worked out marvelously. We never think, "Good thing I didn't take that other path 'cause that would have been a disaster!"

In our heads, the choice we didn't make would have worked out fine. Or perfectly fine. Or terrifically.

We look back and think, "What if we'd made that other choice?" Again, in our heads, we iron out all the outcomes so they're better than the ones we now enjoy.

The reality is we only know the outcomes of the choices we made. Had we made a different choice...we think we know how it would have worked out, but we don't really know. We project a successful outcome in our minds. It feels real prompting us to regret the choice we made. Maybe. Or at the least, wondering if the other choices might have been better!

Fact is - maybe it would be great. Maybe it would be a disaster. Maybe it wouldn't matter. We'll only know if we pursue it.

So it makes sense that our brains would gravitate to the best-case-scenario. Why not think the best? Why not think, "Wouldn't it be great if (fill in the blank)?" That's better than thinking, "Wouldn't it be awful if (fill in the blank)?"

I'm still sitting there looking out over a golf course with piney woods across the way. Chipmunks, squirrels and small birds are scurrying about in the morning cold foraging for food. I'm pondering life and they're trying to sustain life. No thought about tomorrow. They're not even bothered by later today.

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