Who Done It?

While outing-and-abouting I saw a personalized license plate that was brilliantly suited to its vehicle! It immediately transported me back to playing the classic board game—Clue, also known as Cluedo—with the neighborhood kids.

Fitting with one of my three aspirations—becoming an international spy—the game was good training for sniffing out answers:

WHO killed Mr. Boddy at his Tudor Mansion: Sultry Miss Scarlett, sinister Mr. Green, snobbish Mrs. Peacock, pompous Colonel Mustard, clueless Professor Plum, or the innocent looking housekeeper and cook, Mrs. White?

HOW did they do it: With a lead pipe, wrench, candlestick, rope, dagger, or revolver?

WHERE did they do it: In the kitchen, ballroom, conservatory, billiard room, library, study, the hall, lounge, or dining room?

And while the game didn’t require the players to discover a motive, it prompts the question: WHY do we do what we do: Is it the lens we view life through? Is it the baggage we carry? Is it a reaction to outside stimuli (person, place, thing, event, or opportunity)? Is it a product of evolution or creation? Is it genetic, cultural, or heritage based?

Why do you think we do what we do?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book—Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience—Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2013

Find me on Twitter @HolEssence
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77 thoughts on “Who Done It?

  1. It is a combination of all of those life experiences ! Any and all could and do lead to awakening, through questioning, through silence, through that still small voice that we learn intuition is the source!

  2. I’d vote for all of the above, but I didn’t see a category called “Whim.” I’d vote for that too! Interesting slant on the topic as always. Your personality certainly shines through on your blog post, Laurie.

  3. Now that’s a question to wrestle with. I also think it’s all them, but also those we discover when we really allow that question to do its work.

  4. The obvious baseline answer is, we do what we do because it’s in our own self-interest of survival first, then achieveing comfort, safety, love, all the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs levels.

    Where the twist comes in is when our socialization affects our choices and thinking. Ex: we see a commercial where people are at a party, drinking a brand name, high buck vodka. They’re having more fun that anyone should be allowed to have, so we think if we drink that vodka, we’ll be as happy as those folks.

    But when we wake up the next morning after having drunk the entire bottle the night before, alone in our drab little apartment, after a night spent watching Home Shopping Network or marathons of NCIS, and are so hung over we think being dead would make us feel better, we can’t possibly believe our decision to drink that vodka was in our best interest. But at the time we bought the vodka, it was.

    Moral of the story: Humans are not perfect, we make choices based on emotion, which defeats the purpose of logic and self-interest.

    Just a morning ramble. I’ll probably make much more sense once it’s after 9:00 a.m. 🙂


    • Chris – Using your vodka commercial…the entire “object of the game” when it comes to marketing is to make people dissatisfied with something they already have, or dissatisfied that they don’t have _____. I find it ludicrous that a multi-billion dollar industry is based on spoon feeding us dissatisfaction. More so, that we swallow the stuff hook, line, and sinker 🙂

  5. Lovely thought provoking post. In my opinion, questions are more important than answers, because they lead to more discoveries and realisations.
    Why do we do the things we do?
    Very important question.
    Thanks for sharing, Laurie! 🙂

  6. Motivation isn’t an easy thing to explain. My honest answer is, I don’t know. It’s not always easy to recognize my own motives, let alone those of another. What I think is fascinating is to think of the game Clue as being a study in motivation. Love that concept!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Kathy – It was a fun exercise for me to look at the game of Clue through eyes that have more experience “under their belt.” Motivation is interesting, isn’t it? I think if/when God/Universe looks at us s/he doesn’t look so much at what we do or fail to do. Rather, at the motivation behind those commissions and omissions.

  7. I think we do what we do because we are unstoppable and have the freedom to do it . We are all individual and have a choice …thank goodness .
    We still have Cluedo in our collection …must get it out for Christmas . Can I be the sultry Miss Scarlet lol
    Cherry x

  8. What a great plate & what a great addition to the game… that psychological element, if we were to be asked to hypothesize about the why. As for the answer, I suppose that’s one of the main reasons I love writing, to ponder and imagine. It’s so fascinating.

  9. In his book Insomnia, Stephen King has an intriguing answer to this question. Its a very entertaining book–especially if you enjoy horror. But here’s my summary: Some people live lives of Purpose. Basically they are meant to do what they do so that things can unfold the way they must. Other people live lives of Random. Basically, who knows why they do what they do. Now I didn’t say that I agreed with this. I just said I thought it was interesting. And half the time–or maybe less–I don’t even know why I do what I do. Or, for that matter, say what I say.

  10. Such a tough question Laurie! It is not so hard when we are tracking down all the good results but the not so good and terrible actions of humans are so much harder to come to terms with. What if human brains just have a curious, problem-solving, boredom reducing and self preservation tendency that can just as easily be twisted towards well-being as injustice or in both directions at the same time? I suppose that would be evolution. Teaching ourselves to make conscious choices for well-being seems not to be an easy task though because all of the elements you mention seem to play a part on our everyday with infinite combinations in a kaleidoscope of patterns. Hum…

    • Terrill – Hum, indeed! And then throw into the mix that “good” things happen to “bad” people, and “bad” things happen to “good” people. It’s definitely a mystery! Part of what I think about when I do my daily sit-and-ponder 🙂

  11. I just reviewed a book that says we are hardwired for struggle – so let children live their own lives and struggles – and an older book I reviewed said we are constantly in search of NEW

    then I think we come equipped to seek happiness ?
    Good questions and what great responses and comments 🙂 Thank you

    • Patricia – I wonder if we’re “hardwired for struggle” (as that book suggests) like a caterpillar is hardwired for struggling out of its cocoon. In other words, maybe the purpose is so that we can have a healthier flight (body, mind, and spirit) once we break through the barrier. Good food for thought!

      • Say Laurie that book I was referring to got stuck in the cloud somehow…we found the review and it will be up on my page later today. The Nov 18th review did not show up either just the book cover???? I am off to re-send that one and then try and find the original post FYI

  12. I used to love to play Clue with my children. What a great illustration to move to your point. 🙂 I think it’s definitely “all of the above,” but I have also realized lately that it’s easy to do things based almost entirely on habit. When I get tired, too, I go operate on “auto-pilot” which often takes me in directions I wouldn’t otherwise choose to go. Being better rested, slowing down and taking the time to actually THINK, sometimes really redirects me in new ways that and with lesser impulsive reactions. At my age there are a lot of habits that aren’t necessarily the best for this season of life. Lots to think about here, Laurie. Thank you. Debra

    • Debra – When positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing, HABITS can be a great thing (meditation, yoga, eating healthy, etc). Unfortunately, many of us have cultivated some habits that are somewhat down-pulling, negative, and unhealthy.

      The great thing about the good habits is that they have a ripple effect on those around us. But doggonit, it’s a two-edged sword. The ripple effect exists for the cruddy habits as well. Life sure is interesting, isn’t it?!

    • Carol – Yes, I agree. The external elements (people, places, things, events, and opportunities) mixed with the internal components (thoughts, feelings, health) vary from day-to-day as do the “why” behind the things we do.

  13. Oh, boy. Deep thoughts required on a Tuesday morning? Say it ain’t so! 😉

    I think we do what we do for any and all of the reasons you listed, but I’d also throw in a dash of happenstance and universal magic. Sometimes I can’t explain my own motivations using my rational mind– but looking back at my actions in retrospect, I usually find that my heart was open to mystery at the time and allowed myself to move forward in trust that I would be taken care of. (Sorry if this is a bit woo-woo for some people, especially on a Tuesday morning. I’m just convinced that something bigger than myself guides my decisions and actions when I allow that force to flow through me. I am an agent, but there’s something bigger at work, too.)

  14. Hi Laurie

    How long have you got???

    It seems to me that there are many different levels at which can answer the question “why do we do what we do?” and all of them have some validity.

    It seems to me that we are extremely complex evolved organisms. You have read many of my writings, so must almost be able to quote the numbers yourself now. Ten thousand times as many cells in our bodies as there are people on the planet, and as many molecules in every cell. Within each cell there are more molecules that can change there behaviour in response to some change in environment than there are people on the planet.

    It seems clear that we are computational machines on a vast scale, with many levels of computation going on simultaneously. The amount of information being processed inside any human body is so vast it is hard to comprehend, billions of times more than our fastest computer today, and about equal to what our fastest computers will be able to do in 20 years time.

    So yes – it seems that we are highly evolved organisms.
    We are evolved at the level of DNA and cells, with these amazing bodies and brains.
    We are evolved at the level of culture, with languages, behaviours, interpretive schema, etc.
    We each individually go through our own personal evolutionary processes as we grow from a simple zygote, to an embryo, to a baby, to a child, to an teenager, to an adult, and all of it a mix of our personal experiences in the context of the evolved wisdom captured in the genetics of our bodies the biological systems around us and the cultures we find ourselves in.

    It seems clear, beyond any reasonable doubt, that both genetics and culture prime us to be highly cooperative social beings.
    Most of us can see clearly the personal benefits in controlling our own personal whims and fancies and being a contribution to the cultural and biological systems that are so much a part of who we are. There seems to be an infinite variety of balance points between group and individual needs, no fixed or best point.

    A human being left alone dies.
    The relatively recent experience of the Romanian orphans shows clearly that it takes much more than simply supplying food to create a functional human being. We need personal contact, love, attention.

    So while it is true that we are each unique individuals, it is also true that we are part of larger systems, both biological and cultural, and we ignore either to our peril (both as individuals and as groups).

    We must all start our journeys into awareness with simple binary concepts, like good and evil, right and wrong, and it seems clear to me, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that the sooner we can all use these simple ideas as ladders to climb beyond them, the better off we will all be, as individuals and as societies. And all such journeys are essentially individual journeys.

    Along the path of our journeys we are exposed to many different methods of valuation.
    Currently our western culture seems to be dominated by market measures of value. Markets are great tools for distributing scarce resources, and they fail completely when it comes to dealing with abundance. Markets always value abundance at zero. So in our historical past, when most things were in fact scarce, markets served us well. However, now that we have the technology to actually deliver abundance of many things, market measures of value are producing some very perverse outcomes in respect of human welfare, and may have reached the end of their utility for humanity.

    Why that exploration of markets?
    It seems clear that in today’s world, most people are strongly influenced by money, and money is a market measure of value.

    It seems true today, as a first order approximation, to say that most people do what they do for money. Of course we all have other motives, and the major motive for most people in most circumstances is clearly money.
    It seems clear to me that we need to move beyond this social phase of money fixation as soon as possible, and with as little chaos and destruction as possible. Some people advocate simply letting the monetary system collapse, and rebuild from scratch from the ashes. I don’t favour that approach. I would much rather see us transcend money with awareness and technology in equal measure.

    It seems clear to me that the higher the level of awareness an individual has, the greater the choice of values available to them and the more complex is the answer to the question “why do we do what we do?”

    And whatever the level of awareness, it seems that we are each such complex mixes of systems and randomness, that there will always be a significant measure of the unknown in whatever answer we come up with in the moment.

    • Ted – I always enjoy reading your “How long have you got?” comments. When I saw your opening line, I immediately went and put the kettle on a for a cuppa tea so I could enjoy your lengthy response.

      – Complexity down to the atom level.
      – Brain design beyond comprehension.
      – External/Inherited contributors (geography/genetics).
      – Experience (and the ensuing baggage).
      – Emotional contact (or the lack thereof).
      – Climbing intellectual ladders (or choosing a lackadaisical slide )
      – Global economy (market measure of value / financial motivation)

      With the above-list of contributing factors, it’s no wonder at the randomness and multitude of unknowns.

      • Hi Laurie

        Acknowledging what you say, it seems that randomness is even deeper and more fundamental.

        It seems that, in logic, the only way to get free choice is if the system as a whole is fundamentally a mix of the lawful and the random.

        Free choice only seems to be able to exist where there are laws, but those laws are based on probabilities, not certainties. And in many cases the probabilities are so close to certainties that we don’t bother thinking about the difference, and that is, in itself, something of a trap.

        It seems that this universe in which we find ourselves is uncertain at the most fundamental of levels, and that propagates all the way up, to some degree.

        So it is not simply an uncertainty in our not being capable of dealing with all of the inputs, it is uncertainty at a far more fundamental level, that all of the inputs contain a degree of “fuzziness”, and cannot be tied down to nice neat certain numbers. They all have finite probabilities of being any of a range of numbers.
        And in most cases, those ranges are fairly tightly constrained, and allow us to make predictions with amazing degrees of accuracy, and in some cases it works the other way (like in trying to predict weather).

        It’s kinda like existence seems to be both lawful and unlawful at the same time – a neat trick which it pulls off rather nicely.

      • Ted, “A neat trick,” indeed! Wouldn’t it be cool if like new prescription glasses, we could be fitted with lenses (like head/heart glasses) that eliminated the fuzziness and provided us with “clear vision” 🙂

      • Hi Laurie
        The whole point is, that the only way (in logic) to get “clear vision” is to give up any possibility of free will, and simply be an automata, all actions decreed since the dawn of time.

        It seems logically clear that the only way to have freedom is to accept the “fuzziness”.

  15. Did I see what I think I saw? First you direct me to a license plate, and immediately yellow = mustard no matter what the plate said. Second glance, I’m right, and remember the Colonel! Brain Games?

    Oh, Laurie…..you’ve always had the answer………..because we choose to..

  16. “WHY do we do what we do: Is it the lens we view life through? Is it the baggage we carry? Is it a reaction to outside stimuli (person, place, thing, event, or opportunity)? Is it a product of evolution or creation? Is it genetic, cultural, or heritage based?”

    Well, I’d say it’s a combination of all of those Laurie, rather than just a single one. Oh how I love Clue!!! Professor Plum with the wrench in the Kitchen! That game was at a number of times an obsession,, and I can recall spending an unGodly number of hours with young friends over the years. Clue, Monopoly and RISK. Those were the Big Three. And what great license plates indeed!

    • Sam – In this day of high tech it’s a shame we don’t get the board games out as often as we used to. The one that Len and I play on a fairly regular basis is backgammon. We’re both “killer strategists” and like to try to outwit the other one 🙂

  17. This is kind of related – someone once told me that “Everyone’s reality is different.” For example, you know how people say the following about siblings: “Wow, they are so different, but they were raised by the same parents?” While that may be biologically true, each child’s window on Life is vastly different.

    • AirportsMadeSimple – You’re absolutely right! My sister and I are only 13 months apart and we share the same parents and grew up in the same house, yet when we talk about our remembrances, on numerous occasions they’re different as day and night.

  18. Laurie, thank you for such a grand reminder of my childhood and also dating Jordan almost 50 years ago. We love playing clue!! Of course, you would not be surprised if I said it is a combination of Nature and Nurture because of our Brain Color Personality. That is always the answer I give when people ask the same question of me. There is no right of wrong answer, but we must also remember that our environment (home, school, community and/or workplace) influence who we are and what we do.

  19. We played Clue endlessly. Taught us to think with planning.Then by 14 years old I had read every single Sherlock Holmes novel and story Doyle had written. However, I still can’t find my keys or glasses and yesterday I went to mail out some bill payments and I know I had a full book of stamps but for the life of me could not find them either.

  20. Oh we still have this game! Why do we do the things we do? I could make up sixty thousand answers to this question, but the answer that seems most true right now is: Who knows? We just do what we do. Probably a combination of explanations. Why is Miss Laurie in the Starbucks with the latte? LOL!

    • Kathy – Miss Laurie is in Starbuck’s with a Venti Hazelnut Latte enjoying the bajeebers out of their electricity. We’ve been out since Sunday at 1:45.

      And yes, there are innumerable reasons why we do what we do. Our mutual friend, Sandi White, suggested “urge.” And I suspect each of us is “urged” by different means (depending on the who, what, when, where, why, and how of our individual lives)…

  21. the WHY question seems so complicated, but I guess if I had to pick one direction, I think it has a lot to do with the accumulation of life experiences, which then affects the lens through which you view every new experience. See? I can’t even pick ONE direction, but rather ended up going in two directions at once. But then I have to add in the layer of discernment, which (for me) seems to directly affect my ability to weigh the messages that are filtering through my past experiences and being seen through the lens of my personal point of view, in that I have to question whether I am remembering to factor in the “what if” part of the equation. What if my past experiences and my personal view are tainting the image or thought that is forming? Can I look past that image or thought, and discover something new?

    complicated, but worth exploring … interesting post, and interesting comments

    • Ntexas99 – I like the factors you’re taking into consideration. Further, I resonate with trying to fairly deduce if you can look past prior experiences so as not to taint the current situation. Nice. Very nice, indeed! 🙂

      • p.s. When I recently updated my blog theme (because my old theme was retired), it didn’t dawn on me that something looked familiar … it wasn’t until I came here today that I realized we’re sharing the same theme (Spectrum). Maybe that was subconsciously part of the attraction; light being drawn to light. In many ways, it feels like my life is moving away from darkness, and into the light, so I guess it’s only fitting that my new blog theme would reflect that as well. In any case, it is nice to know we’re sharing a blog theme. I can’t imagine anyone more qualified to point the way. 🙂

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