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Do you wish you had less choice?

First time I went shopping in the United States, I was a college student and I wanted cereal. I walked into the biggest grocery store I have ever seen in my life (back home, only soccer stadiums were that big). I was used to having so much less choice in cereal to see all of choices.

After the initial shock of being lost in a maze, I was told that cereals are in their very special aisle. I stood in front of that aisle, frozen. Both sides were filled with colorful boxes that were 10 times larger than cereal boxes back home. Everything was so big and there were SO MANY boxes.

 

I spent about half an hour in that aisle trying to find something that resembled what I used to eat. What do I choose when they all seem the same? I walked out of the grocery store that day empty handed and with a massive headache.

 

Since then, I have gotten used to choice everywhere around me. Whatever it is that you want, you have to pick between the variations of that want. Want a career in journalism? Well, there are only about 100 different routes you can take: freelancer, working for a local magazine, investigative journalism, blogging, etc.

 

Whatever you want, just name it, there are 100 different options for it out there: food, clothing, daycare, cars, etc. As Americans, we proud ourselves on having the choice and it is beautiful that we have it, especially since I didn’t grow up with that. But what happens when so much choice become paralyzing?

 

Is too much choice (or too must stuff for that matter) complicating your life?

 

As I struggle to maintain my role as a coach, a wife and a mother – I sometimes wish things were much more simple. I wish I didn’t have to choose so much. This is a hard thing for me to say.

 

We assume that having the choice makes us happier, but research now shows that we really don’t know what makes us happy when making decisions. Dan Gilbert has dedicated his life to teaching us what makes us happy and he shares more of his findings here.  (By the way, I love TED talks and highly recommend spending a day in bed watching these – my own continued education!)We assume that something specific would do the job, but the outcome is very different.

 

More is not necessarily better. Choice can either paralyze us or water down the strong options right in front of us. Can you think of something in your life where this might be true? Notice in your life where this presents itself: what would happen if you were to simplify? If you were to go back to your original desire, what would you chose?

 

I often look at some of my friends in developing countries around the world: they don’t have nearly as much choice but they embrace what they have with so much gusto and they seem to be happier than many of us. I suspect that it might have something to do with embracing what was given to you and making the most out of it. Maybe we think that others can determine what makes us happy better than we can? I wonder, I wonder.

 

Today I invite you to simplify and choose the simple solution that you would be happy with if it weren’t for the pressure to choose something else. In the sea of so much, sometimes it is best to go back to basics.

 

I am curious: is this something that is a problem for you? Do you sometime wish things were simpler or is it just my immigrant curse?:) I would love to hear your feedback this time so please share with me and others. 

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