Until the 1950s, scientists believed that history was a linear sequence of events which gradually unfolded, one day at a time.
Then came Erwin Schrödinger, Hugh Everett, and Bryce Seligman DeWitt. You may know Schrödinger as the guy with the cat (YouTube). Or maybe not.
Schrödinger’s Cat is a thought experiment where a cat is placed in a bunker with an explosive charge that has a 50% chance of detonating in the next minute. After one minute, the cat is either dead or alive—a superimposed state—and it’s not until the bunker is opened that you know which.
Classically, nature picked one outcome. Either the cat survived or it didn’t. Quantum mechanics introduced the notion that both possible outcomes happen. At the moment of truth, two separate quantum realities are created, one for each outcome. This is the many-worlds interpretation.
Hey, I just met you
And this may sound crazy
But every possible outcome happens simultaneously in a superimposed state
So call me maybe
Erwin Schrödinger (in another timeline, where he’s a quantum physicist and pop singer)
It’s become a popular trope in science fiction stories (and Choose Your Own Adventure books). Every outcome happens. Every choice is made. Every path is taken. At each event, a new timeline is created.
I took my daughter to school this morning. I brought my lunch from home. I went to the gym. That’s the reality that I chose to experience today.
Somewhere in the multiverse, there’s a different timeline where my wife took our daughter to school today, I took my coworkers out to lunch, and I put off going to the gym until tomorrow. Still not a bad day. But somewhere, I was in a car accident while we were out to lunch.
Every decision we make causes ripples. Each decision creates a new situation that presents new decisions we wouldn’t have otherwise faced. New problems, new challenges, new opportunities.
Each successful outcome we achieve, whether it’s a goal, project, or just having a good day, is the result of a chain of decisions. Some decisions take us closer to the outcome faster than others. Some take us farther away.
We can’t go back and change the decisions we’ve made. Once we can get a DeLorean up to 88 mph, maybe. Until then, the best we can do make another decision to completely or partially reverse the earlier decision. The more significant the effects of a decision, the harder it is to reverse a decision, the more thought and consideration we should give the decision.
Every decision can be undone by another decision. That creates more ripples. And more decisions to face.
Whatever our circumstances, we can make a decision to improve them. Viktor Frankl called this “the last of human freedoms” because it’s something that cannot be taken away from us.
Somewhere out there, in one of the many worlds, there is a version of you that is the best version of you. Instead of chasing your dreams, you’re living them. Why not choose to experience that reality in this timeline?
Question: What reality do you choose today? Share your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
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