The greatest gift of modern life is the choices we have at our disposal which our parents and generations before them lacked. Today, we think in choices, act on options, strategize alternatives, and strive for possibilities, as such our whole life circles around choices of lifestyle, education, career, relationships, between being a stoic or to side with popular consumerism, capitalism or Marxism, left or right even center is no longer a neutral ground, its a choice. Its influence extends beyond the experiential realm and connects itself to our thoughts, where it gets its popular political name, freedom of choice.
We cherish freedom embodied in choices, even big corporations like Coca Cola chip in this celebration of freedom of choosing by offering normal coke, diet coke, zero coke, etc. But isn’t it unusual that while we firmly believe man is born free, we can only relate to freedom in choices, things which we can barely influence.
Thinking in choices transforms thinking, taking it away from ‘seeking passion’ to ‘desiring choices’, and thereby expelling happiness and satisfaction to a secondary place in thinking, from its dominant position which, now, we can only relate with Hollywood.
This inversion of thinking is its transformation through freedom of choice. Its function is to create excess pleasure which indulges thinking, the pleasure which is beyond consumption, the pleasure of choosing. This excess is on top of pleasure we experience from a refreshing drink on a hot day, as such the pleasure from consumption of the beverage becomes secondary, in contrast to our freedom to choose.
The invention significantly changes our interpretation of the world, where one may be content merely through consumption, the excess pleasure generated from choosing perpetually reproduces itself guaranteeing that we could never escape from its alluring appeal.
To be clear, let’s differentiate between passion and desire as its central idea to the idea of this inversion. First, desire is a thought associated with the consumption of an object, a new model of iPhone, new car, new relationship, new job, etc., and as it is something outside of us, we can exercise little to no influence on this phenomenon.
In contrast, passion is associated with one’s will, it relates to our volition, its boundless, and is something we can influence directly as it is internal to us. One should be careful in this distinction however as desire too can present itself in a form of passion. This is because both desire and passion are mediated through will, so one could be passionate about something external, but through this distinction can be unraveled, in its true form as desire.
Another distinctive feature of desire is that it contains hope and fear as its distinctive features compared to passion where there are just hollow words. Hope generates choices in which one seeks satisfaction in objects and as such, it is this hope one celebrates as freedom of choice. While the fear of failing to achieve this satisfaction fuels hope further, and as a unity, it perpetuates celebration of choice in desire. On the other hand, passion overrides hope and fear as it is related to one inner will.
When one is desiring, thinking instills in itself hopes and fears of social acceptance, being cool, staying relevant through external objects, while on the other hand when one is passionate, one is free from hope and fear and thinks freely that one wills. Reversing this inversion of thinking therefore means to bring back passion to its place as dominant thought, through which we can be free from the domination of freedom of choice.
The first step in reversing this inversion is to understand its impact on thinking. This is outlined in the above discussion, which I think can be summarized in four main points; (a) The inversion involves replacing pleasure/satisfaction with choices; (b) One thinks in choices and consequently derives pleasure from having choices at the disposal; (c) the pleasure derived from the availability of choices presents itself as the passion, and (d) distinction between desire and pleasure.
When we understand this distinction clearly in our actions, it can be enlisted as one’s own passions and desires, to analyze one’s own thinking. To be clear on this point, some of the examples of passions and desires are as follows;
- Learning a new skill
- Getting physically fit
- Develop a deeper understanding of ideas through writing
- Volunteer for humanitarian work
- Promotion at work
- Entertain with Netflix/Cricket/Football
- Buy a new car
- Gain followers on social media
Once these are identified, then you can work on reducing your dependence on desires and increasing your focus on passions. With this change, we are effectively removing the influence of choosing from our thinking, freeing it from freedom of choice which chains thinking to think in choices. In the end, our aim is to bring passion back to the primary place in thinking, we should think passionately and act on those passions which make us truly and passionately free.