Free will is predicated upon the ability to choose between several alternatives. It implies that our actions are governed by our will and that the possibilities are endless. But what choices do we actually have and what really dictates the sequence of those choices?
Our penal system is based upon choice. The inmates made the wrong choices and ended up in jail. Our career, our friends, partners, or what we will eat for breakfast all involve choices that then lead to actions. Religions use the concept of free will as the pivot point in determining whether you will spend your afterlife in a place of glorious ecstasy or a place of unrelenting suffering. What if there is no choice, no free will? What if the order of your life has already been determined; all the choices make; all actions taken? What if the only control we have over the direction of our life is in how we manage our attitude.
Let’s examine the question of choice more closely. Was there a choice when and where we were born into this world? Did we choose our parents or siblings? Did we choose the society and culture were we placed into? All of these events and many more all happened without our volition. All of these factors were formative in the way we think and act today. Events and situations within the context of our lives have shaped our perception of the world and pre-determined our selection of possible courses of action.
Choice is not random. It is always based upon a predisposition towards the outcome of that choice, which is based upon the accumulation of all previous experience and knowledge. Everyone is always doing the best that they can within the circumstances of their life. Despite judgements to the contrary, everyone makes the only choice they can make at the time they make it. Free will implies that there could have been a different outcome to an event than there was. There could not have been!
Consider other living things. Do you believe they are making choices in their lives? They all are living and dying according to circumstances outside of their control. Their environment, their genetics, the conditions of their lives, all combine to determine the course of their existence. Only we, as humans, believe that it proceeds otherwise with us.
Outside of the scientific community, most believe that we are not descended from a long line of other animal species, but instead are created by God in his image and imbued with the gift of free will. Why do we believe that? Because that is what we were told! The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden relates that fortuitous occasion where God looked upon his human creations favorably and gave us choice. Even people that have other belief systems consider themselves select among life forms and instilled with rights and privileges that they have not.
Life is a complex structure of countless interconnected events that all interface together to coalesce into decisions that you make. There were not many choices; there was only one choice and you made it. Where you do have choice, however, is your attitude or disposition towards that choice and its consequence. You are the gatekeeper of your thoughts. You can determine what thoughts you allow to surface to a conscious level and what thoughts you deny. One could argue that these are also pre-determined, but they are not. All thoughts are already present in the unconscious mind and only you determine which to admit to consciousness. These can be thoughts of love, appreciation and gratitude or thoughts of anger, hate or jealousy. It is your choice; your exercise of free will.
You are a passenger in this life and not the conductor. In this hologram of existence, everything is already done; Alpha to Omega. The end was formed within the seed of the beginning, just as the giant oak tree is contained within the acorn or the mustard plant within the tiny mustard seed. We are all just unfolding within an order that is hidden from our perception, but is nonetheless present. Your choice is either to set back and enjoy the ride or to constantly fuss and complain.