The Chaos Theory
Have you ever heard of the ‘Chaos Theory’? No, it is not referring to the pandemonium caused by an earthquake or a fire outbreak. Chaos is a “science of surprises”. The Chaos Theory is a relatively new branch of mathematics that deals with surprises, the unpredictability of events and the nonlinearity of life. Knowing what it is can actually teach us how to expect and deal with the unexpected and how to cope with uncertainties and changes.
The Real World is Full of Unpredictability and Chaos
Conventional science explains predictable phenomena to us, like gravity, phases of the moon, magnetism or electricity. Chaos Theory, on the other hand, helps us to handle events which are difficult or even impossible to predict and control, like how our body and brain works, the weather, the changes in the stock market, the unpredictability of the business world or volatility of supply and demand . These uncertainties are due to the boundless intricacy of nature which Man has not been able to uncover yet. The meteorologist can provide reasonable weather forecasts and we often rely on these forecasts to make plans, like a picnic or a trip to the zoo, but we do not blame the weatherman if the forecast turns out wrong. Weather forecasting, like many other things, is an imperfect science and not a definitive prediction for what the actual thing will be like. As Albert Einstein said, “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality”. The real world is full of chaos, with many uncertain events and outcomes.
It is Better to Err on the Side of Caution
So what is the Chaos Theory to us then? Recognising the unpredictable nature of our world is important to help us lead a normal life. Knowing how the Chaos Theory works can provide us new perspective, knowledge, understanding and wisdom. By understanding how things work, the economy, the social systems and the interconnectedness of events, we can help to mitigate detrimental results which can affect us in the long term. Take, for example, the pandemic. It started in one small town in China. But understanding the chaos of things and the unpredictability of its effects, many countries opted to go into lockdowns. They prefer to err on the side of caution rather than take a risk and pay the price of the mistake. And as we know, that cause of action may have helped to prevent many more millions of deaths around the world.
Chaos Theory as a Coping Mechanism
Being a student now, you are in a controlled environment where you know when your next class is, who your professor and classmates are, or when the exams will start. But after graduating, you will be out in the field where everything is nonlinear and unpredictable. When you are out in the working world, you are dealing with a lot of people, a lot of protocols, new technologies, and thousands of choices. There are people and organisations who do not follow the law, people who have different cultures and backgrounds and there will be miscommunications, problems with fitting in, inconsistencies of situations, etc. All these can leave you feeling exasperated, overwhelmed and fatigued. Tapping into the Chaos Theory can help you to self-reflect, see things from different perspectives and survive the madness. Understanding how unstable the world is can help you to cope with overwhelming life events and learn to have a Zen mindset, be open and accept what is, and not judge or punish yourself too much over what happens. The Chaos Theory helps you not to lose your sense of purpose and your perseverance.
Chaos Theory Helps You Control the Chaos in Your Life
Chaos is inevitable. Everyone has had some form of chaos in their lives. The loss of loved ones, the diagnosis of a certain disease, the failure to land that job after going through all the recruitment stages. It can be debilitating, demotivating and can affect our emotions and our actions. But if we understand that it is part of our lives, we will realise that it is important to move forward and not look back. See the beauty in the chaos. Maybe that job is not meant to be for you. Be ready for the next chaos. The next ride may still be bumpy but soon, you will find the smooth ride.
There are several ways to embrace and manage chaos in your lives. Make plans but expect changes. Be aware that plans can be interrupted and you need to have plans B, C and D. Understand and accept that it is part of life and then move forward. Take the next option. Maybe that is not your final destination. Maybe it is just a stepping stone to something better. So move on. The pandemic is a chaos, but many people find opportunities in it and they innovate and improvise ideas and products, instead of lamenting and giving up. The secret is not to be incapacitated by the chaos, but to be alert, identify and grab the opportunities that come with it. By doing these, you can control the chaos that comes your way and live a more fulfilling life, not one of exasperation and failure.
By Hanna Abdelwahab