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Embracing Uncertainty

You need answers, we get it. We all do. This thirst is so universal that a term has been created to address it: “cognitive closure.” This sort of closure is probably an evolutionary byproduct or, at the very least, a human quirk. Yet it seems, in a world of awry Chinese circuit breakers and global warming, that certainty lives outside our grasp.

The outlook is not necessarily bleak: Jamie Holmes, author of ‘Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing,’ asserts that discomfort with uncertainty can do more damage than uncertainty itself. So that is where we can take control.

As, in Holmes’ words: “a high need for closure negatively influences some of our most critical decisions: how we deal with perceived threats, who we decide to trust, whether we admit we’re wrong, whether we stereotype, and even how creative we are,” much has been prescribed in the way of keeping this need for closure in check.

Some of Holmes’ suggestions: reading fiction, and accumulating multicultural experiences.

Perhaps the best way, though, of coping with such disorder is confronting it head on to learn from and embrace it.

In this brilliant Wait But Why essay, writer-illustrator Tim Urban captures the sense of wonder and peace that can come from welcoming the unknown and internalizing the bigger picture.

“We should be united in our uncertainty,” he writes, “not divided over fabricated certainty. And the more humans turn around and look at (everything we don’t know), the better off we’ll be.”