Monday, December 08, 2014

Is Choice a Bad Thing?

I watched this great TED Talk today (trying to get back into the habit of learning new things every day through TED and other sources), 

The talk TOTALLY explains a lot of my stress and anxiety. Choices are SO hard for me and make me so worried and I always analyze too much before making a choice and second-guess myself after I make a choice. Whether it's choosing new shoes, choosing what to write about on this blog or in a Power of Moms post, choosing where to go running, choices stress me out! The bandwidth of my brain is taken up way too much by choices that really don't matter that much.

I love how my kids' dentist just gives them three choices of floride flavors. He told me that there are actually 12 choices but that kids take forever choosing so he just tells them about three and they quickly and happily make a choice. I wish there was someone in my life who could narrow things down to just three choices for me on a lot more things!

I'm trying to narrow choices by doing things like giving myself only half hour to research and purchase things online - I'm working to convince myself that whatever I find during that time period will be just perfect and I need to make the purchase and decide to be delighted about it. In stores, I'm tring to more frequently just buy something when I find a thing that fits basic criteria decently even though there might be something better or cheaper elsewhere. And it can work well to assign choices to others (Jared and Ashton had a fun time picking out a new computer for me - I left it totally up to them and I didn't do a bit of research but told them a couple things that mattered to me and asked them to please just decide for me - and they did - and the new computer is great - and I'm not even going to think about any other computers.) I've decided to just follow the same 3-mile running loop all the time and go whether no matter what the weather is (I was spending way too much brain power trying to decide whether or not to go and where to go each day that I had "running" on my calendar). I'm working on turning off my brain after making certain choices - just deciding to be excited about what I chose and tearing my brain away from re-visiting and re-analyzing decisions.

But I've got a long ways to go. And I want to figure out the right balance when it comes to offering my kids choices. 

So after watching this and thinking about it, I'd love further ideas about how I can "create a good fishbowl" (end of the video explains this) for myself and for my kids? What works for you?


Pam said...

Saren I wrote a post about how making choices for my children can oftentimes be comical. Here is the link

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for posting this. I learned about this research a few years ago and have tried to integrate what I learned from it into my everyday life. I hope that this knowledge will go a long way in reducing your levels of stress (as it did for me).

What's interesting to me as a non-Mormon reader is that I think that one thing of the greatest gifts that you are giving your children IS the good type of fishbowl of your religion. Your children will struggle less with some of the questions that Schwartz describes (e.g., whether or not it is good to get married and have children) than the average American coming of age at this moment in history. Due to my non-religious upbringing, I struggled by myself with questions such as whether religion is even important, not to mention the question of how to choose the "right" religion. My point is that I wholeheartedly agree that all this choice in our modern day can lead to unhappiness on the level of superficial, everyday things, but I think that you can feel a great sense of comfort that you have provided your children with a religious worldview and culture that will guide them well in life. I hope that I am able to create this for my own children one day when I have them.

Thanks again for this thoughtful post; I am a fan of your blog.

P.S. Some of Schwartz's more recent research explains how your personality can affect how some people are more affected by too much choice than others (google maximizer vs. satisficer or take a look at this article:

Saren Loosli said...

Thanks so much for your thought-provoking comments, florafedora. Great point that our religion does narrow down some choices for us - in a very helpful way. And I'm excited to check out the further research you recommend.


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