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Thoughts for a New Year: Certainty vs. Predictability

Thoughts for a New Year: Certainty vs. Predictability



by Rita Milios



            For most of us, today is often not much different from yesterday, or the day before, or even tomorrow. In general, we live a life based on routine, on habit, where the certainty of events and predictions of future actions are pretty stable.  We know we will get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and possibly watch TV. We may be more uncertain about the weekends (will it be the football game or the rafting trip?) but such uncertainties don’t radically change the way we view our universe.

                  Scientists, too, have traditionally viewed the universe as existing in a pretty predictable manner, with universal “laws” that give us a world that behaves, at least on the surface, in a fairly stable and permanent manner.

                  But a controversial theory by Nobel Prize winning scientist Ilya Prigogine shook the scientific community in the late 90’s. Prigogine claimed, in a 1997 book titled The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature, that there is a “one-way arrow of time”. Rather than working from fixed “laws”, our universe, according to Prigogine, is governed by “probabilities” given to us by the external “mixing” of chaos. Further, the “laws,” or rather, “cosmic habits” that we exist under at this moment are a result of our accumulated past events and circumstances. In other words, the universe evolves. It moves only forward, never backward, in time and progress. And, says Prigogine, the circumstances created by this progress (which, by the way, has a certain element of free will to it, as each decision we make individually or collectively affects “circumstance”) create new “laws” to accommodate that evolution.

                  This means that rather than being predictable, life itself is ever changing, ever evolving, in response to our actions. One person’s choices, as they affect life around them, can potentially change our entire world. We are all important. We are all in this together. We are evolving and transforming ourselves, our universe and the laws that govern it…simply by living our lives.

                  This notion of certainly puts a different light on our “everyday routines.”  It gives them an importance, a continuity that they did not have before; and it forces us to think more deeply about the choices we make. For without the pressure to “do it right the first time,” would we ever make the choice to evolve? Even if we believe in reincarnation and multiple lives, the one-way arrow of time gives us only one chance at this life. I think that is an important distinction.

                  There is something about certainty, and knowing that what we do, and the choices that we make, impacts our lives and the lives of others in a way that is permanent. This knowledge makes even our “simple” choices feel more important, more meaningful. Even though there may be no longer predictability to life, there is still certainty. And knowledge of that certainty challenges us to make better choices about the permanent influences we each have on one another, and on life itself.

                  Wishing all a very happy and prosperous New Year!



Rita Milios, LCSW, the Mind Mentor, is a psychotherapist, author and workshop presenter from Kissimmee, FL. She can be reached for information regarding workshops or spiritual coaching services at Or call Rita at 863-496-7223.


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