Thursday, August 15, 2019

Choices: The Land of Opportunity

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By: Copy Editor + Editorial Team LeadJoyce S. 



In a world where you can do anything, what if you want to do nothing?  

On a hot summer’s day, after spending hours in the sweltering heat, you make your way to your favorite ice cream shop and momentarily hesitate when going to order. In the past, this store only served strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate but today there are about thirty flavors to choose from: Cookie Monster, Superman, Cookie Dough? After some deliberation, you make your choice, but you are once again bombarded with a plethora of options, this time for toppings: strawberries, gummy bears, chocolate chips, marshmallows, kiwis. The seemingly endless amount makes your head begin to spin, but you haven’t even made a dent in the series of choices you must make. Cup or cone? Waffle or sugar cone? Dipped in chocolate or plain? Sitting inside or outside? After stumbling your way through your order, you sit down and take in what just happened. You realize that in your distressed state you ordered a key lime and peanut butter ice cream with pickles and ketchup on top, and in order to get a better cone, you would have to stand in line again and pay for entirely new ice cream. When you had so many options, how did you manage to choose the wrong one?  
If you are currently connected to the internet, you have access to almost every place, every person, every answer that you’ve ever wanted. You can learn how to master the guitar or become a priest in a matter of days, you can book a flight to Timbuktu this very second or enter the stock market and try your hand in investments. With all of these options available at your fingertips (even more so if you own a smartphone), it's nearly impossible to not feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options you are given on a day to day to basis. Keeping this in mind, larger decisions, such as choosing a career or spouse, can seem even more daunting, especially considering that science has proven that an overabundance of choices can make us feel dissatisfied. After every decision, we are often left wondering if there’s something better out there. This idea of having to make the perfect choice is what can lead to a series of greater issues like anxiety and depression. While this may sound extreme, repeated exposure to ‘choice overload’ (a term coined by researcher Barry Schwartz) can cause us to make worse and/or slower decisions, that is if we make a decision at all. 
Although choice overload can feel paralyzing, there are ways to alleviate the pressure. Firstly, elimination is key. Instead of looking at the vast expanse of options before you, try to get rid of the options you know you will have no interest in. Narrowing down your options can save a large amount of stress. It is also important to realize that you do not have to be fully certain of every decision you make. Sometimes you will make the wrong decisions, and that’s okay, but don’t allow room for self-blame. Following the idea that every choice has the perfect outcome can make the process even more daunting. 
While having an abundance of choices seems to be both beneficial and problematic, if you can learn to change your thinking process you can once again enjoy the pleasures of being able to choose from such a large range of nearly everything. Making the process of choosing fun again is the first step increasing confidence in your decisions and yourself. 

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