The Power of Uncertainty: From Scheduling to World Peace

“As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.”


I live in a state of constant uncertainty.

I do not know what challenges tomorrow brings, but I am prepared to face them.

This realization gives me great power.

Even though, I do not know for certain what the future holds, I can make today count.

I do not know which country I will visit next, but I know I will make the best out of it.

I don’t even know if my most recent job interview went well or not, but I hope they hire me. I even wore a tie.

When I think in terms of what I do not know, I realize that uncertainty is a powerful tool of thought that we can use in our everyday lives. Too often, we underestimate the hidden power of the unknown.

Understanding our limits of control over the future and trusting in nature’s guidance system can give us unparalleled strength that dissolves fear.  Our bodies have a natural intelligence built into the framework: we breathe constantly without reminder, our heart beats steadily without strain, and our body repairs and replenishes itself without our consent. The most important processes in life work like magic without our tiniest influence or constraint.

However, our greatest asset holds our weakest link. Our mind tries to desperately to cling its false sense of self, the ego, an illusion of control, but the truth is: we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Daring souls that chose to disrupt their lives of mediocrity and join the ranks of the uncomfortable and the uncertain will begin to see through this oasis of certainty. An amazing and unknown potential exists in the heart of us all, but we are too scared to reach for the truth. We limit ourselves. Fear surmounts our courage preventing us from reaching the uncharted depths of our souls. We trick and confuse ourselves into a false sense of security. As much as we try and convince ourselves of a life’s certainty, we cannot possibly know what the future holds.

Daily routine and scheduling are common attempts to bring a level of physical certainty into our lives. We predetermine where we will be in the future by making tidy schedules and plans. We convince ourselves of the security by repeating the same tasks everyday: walking the dog at the same hour, going to work at the same hour, and going to bed at the same time. As history shows us, it is not uncommon for an unknown disruption to delay our safe-knit plans. The terrorist attacks of 9/11, the tsunami of Boxing Day,a family crisis, or a medical emergency can put our convenient plans in the dust. Alas, we try to plan the best we can.

Our religious morals and ideas of God and Heaven are nothing more than temporary comforts. We try to convince ourselves that we are certain about death’s preceding. In reality, we haven’t a clue. None of us has reached the afterlife and lived to tell of it. None of us have experienced the totality of death.

Our scientific models of evolution, theories on plate tectonics, and mathematical formulas that predict the probability of life in the universe are nothing more than educated guesses. They are estimations based on what we know to be true or “based on facts.” Yet, history proves that even the facts have been wrong. Many historians died believing the world was flat- scared to float off the edge of earth’s horizon. Galileo was murdered for his beliefs. Einstein disproved Newton. And physicists still do understand how gravity works. No one has ever reached the bottom of the Marina Trench. Even in our highly-respected and esteemed collection of knowledge, much uncertainty exists.

Typically, society stereotypes uncertainty as a negative quality. Admitting you don’t know the answer to a problem is looked down upon and ridiculed mostly by one’s peers. This unfortunate response is long overdue for a critique. Uncertainty has immense benefits for mankind. In fact, admitting we are uncertain is essential for humanity’s survival and evolution. The longevity of our race depends on “not-knowing.” It is the “how” of our evolution. It will show us the way to a better future. By not knowing what tomorrow brings, we are encouraged to grow today.

Living an uncertain life can help us appreciate the moment and live in the present moment. We are so ignorant to think that our knowledge is  the ultimatum of truth and other’s beliefs are wrong. It is this precise type of ignorance that is ruining the world today. Bitter conflict stems from false perceptions. Our knowledge is limited and we barely understand the totality of the universe, let alone the complexities of the human body. Understanding the value that lies in uncertainty may help us become more cohesive with one another: it might make the stirring of our global mixture, a batter of sorts, more homogeneous.  If we can at least agree on the number of things we do not know, there may be at last a hope for a starting line towards equality and peace. Uncertainty can be a catalyst for change, an elementary cure for the ignorant, and a fresh breath of air for proud know-it-all’s including respected scientists, honored officials, and the Sunday school preacher.

Uncertainty can help us look at each day as a wonderful gift worth living. It keeps the doors of life, growth, knowledge, and change open even after all the masters of certainty believe they know all the answers. A true master never closes the doors. A true master understands learning is never finished. By realizing that we do not know anything, we open ourselves up to learn everything. This is how we can begin to cure ignorance. Understanding the principle of uncertainty is how we will fix the world. Admitting we are wrong and we have no idea what we are doing is a good start. Only by admitting that we as individuals do not know, putting our pride aside, and opening ourselves up to accepting others can we prepare to do our best work. This is where we can begin to understand each other. It is here that peace can begin to grow in the world.

Not knowing is where true learning begins.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

-Albert Einstein

About Stephan Stansfield

Stephan is the owner, creator, and editor of Peregrine Poise.
He is currently traveling and teaching around the world. When he is not helping others discover their true potential, he finds time to surf, read, and reflect on the important issues of living a good life.


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