My friend and I have talked often about choices. She grew up in a culture where a lot of the choices about your life are made for you. Her comment was that fewer choices can make you happier. It’s very un-American for me to say so, but I think to a good extent she is right.
We’ve probably all had that feeling of going to the grocery store hungry and feeling overwhelmed with the choices in front of us. If we think about the historical situation of humanity, for most of our existence our choices have been limited by circumstance, food resources, ability to travel, work options, and even mate options. We like to imagine that we have the choice to do anything we want in America. Is that true? And even if it is, has this massive magnitude of choices made us any happier?
When faced with choices one of the first things we do is collect more information. Then we start to feel overwhelmed and begin to rule things out. Narrow the field. The other tack we might try is to sample everything and commit to nothing because we worry, what if we make the ‘wrong’ choice?
I have had lots of situations recently where I have had very, very few choices or none at all. I have also had situations where I have had too many choices. At the moment, my dilemma is my job. I was given a choice to move last year, then that suddenly went away. Now it’s back. I could stay with the company and take another job, I could work for another, I could stay where I’m at. This is what I have decided, that self-limiting my choices in this area opens choice in other areas. I have chosen to stay with the company and pursue a job in another area.
When we make a commitment to one thing it opens doors that did not previously exist in our scope. There is a beauty of simplicity in limiting your choices, there is less angst, less drama, less uncertainty, more growth and deeper understanding. I often think that if JJ and I would have made the choice to commit to each other this would have been the case for us too. But you have to make them conscientiously, you must be okay with letting go of somethings. I think it is less frightening for some people to remain in the quagmire of the confused mass of choices we see in front of us rather than dive into the unknown ones that lay ahead. There is an allure in the imagined future that is frequently more powerful than the future we cannot yet imagine.
I went to the grocery story last night and they have this great produce ‘happy hour’ where they put some things on half price. I decided to let that limit my dinner choices. I came home with tomatoes, zucchini, leeks, and cucumbers. Tonight it is up to me to find the creative spark in myself to make something interesting with this stuff. It seems to me that commitment is about self-confidence in your creative abilities and strengths to deal with the unknown. It seems to me that the simplicity that commitment offers gives you a serene place to begin.
For some odd reason, I love this guy. He’s such a hippy. But his recipe for zucchini and corn salad looks great and no matter what you think about him, his dressing is hard to argue with.