When you think about it, free will is hard to pin down. It's such a big, abstract concept that it's hard to define or even describe.
So what exactly is "free will"? It's the ability to make choices without being influenced by outside forces, like your physical environment or other people. For example, if someone asks you where you'd like to go on vacation this summer, and you say "Hawaii," it's because you chose Hawaii for yourself—you didn't just pick a random place because someone else told you to go there (or maybe because they paid for the ticket).
But this has become an especially controversial topic in recent years as neuroscientists have begun studying brain activity and behavior more closely. Their findings indicate that there may be less free will than previously believed—and some scientists say they've found evidence against any kind of free will!
The idea of free will seems obvious at first glance: if we don't have any control over our actions, how can we be held accountable for them? But it turns out that our brains are incredibly complex machines that aren't always as rational as we think—and sometimes, we can't even tell what part of our brain is making decisions.
When you're driving and you see a stop sign or a red light, you know what to do because your brain tells you so. You don't have to think about it or decide—it's like reflexive instinct. But what happens if someone puts an advertisement in front of your face while you're driving? Your brain makes a decision based on that advertisement, but it's not something you consciously decided to do; in fact, the ad absorbed so much of your attention that you might not even realize what happened until later when the decision is made and it becomes clear that the ad had an effect on your behavior.
In other words: our brains are full of biases and shortcuts that make us think certain things without realizing why we believe them or how they affect us. And if we don't understand those biases, how can we make decisions that are in our best interests?
That's not to say that free will doesn't exist—it does! But it's important to understand how our brain works so that when we make decisions, we can do so with full knowledge of what's happening inside our heads.
My name is Annica Johansson and I am an Art Life Coach, Certified Sound Healer and Artist. I am writing about personal development, daily musings, spirituality and depicting mother nature's amazing beauty. Welcome!