The coin takes air and spins around in suspense before landing for the hundreth time in your palm. The ninetynine times before, by some freak accident, ended up in tails. So surely this time it must be head — for what are the odds of one hundred tails in a row?
The answer is two to the hundreth power: a probability of abyssmally, monomentually and humongously small proportions. It just won’t happen. But yet is it really that hard to imagine that a coin could show tails when flipped? Of course not and this problem is called the gambler’s fallacy.
It’s all about how we frame the situation. The coin doesn’t care what has happened in the past. It only offers two sides with an equal 50/50 chance of turning up when you flip it. The coin is unrelenting and won’t change just because you think it’d be weird for it to show tails this time.
The same is true for many other aspects of our daily lives. You might forget to buy your regular lottery ticket when finally it was the winning one. Perhaps you decided to try a shortcut to work and consequently ended up being late for your meeting. The universe won’t bend to be different just because it could have been and you wish it would have been.
So instead of wallowing in childish what-if scenarios, we can hit the reset switch in our head, embrace reality as it is and realize that change can only exist in the future and it’s driven by our actions in the present now.