The paradox of choice and the environmental redistribution of the resources.
To make a choice and then feel safe with what you have chosen is not that easy. We think things over and over again before doing something, we do it, and we then regret it, thinking if it was a good call or not.
Humans… Trying to rationalize something so pure and instinctive as a decision from the heart.
“In less than two months I will graduate from university –a friend of mine shares with me– and it is not a minor issue. For the first time I do not know what to do with my life, or maybe worse… because honestly, I really don’t know what I WANT to do with my life. I sometimes feel I want to get away and live differently, with less stress going on and less pressures. But sometimes I feel I must take advantage of the opportunities I have, regarding good opportunities are scarce nowadays. And another part of me says stress and pressures are self-induced, not produced by external factors, it all depends on how you take things.”
I believe we’ve all been through this… We are all fed up and want to escape; we all want to stay and tackle reality as it comes; and, of course, we are all a little bit crazy. The three interpretations of reality of my dear friend are very frequent among all the ones who conform a society.
External stressors exist, which alter the tiny bit of serenity we achieved before starting a new day –the traffic, people’s bad mood, the bills to pay, following the routine– and getting out of context, going to a quieter place, helps…
It is true that we need to take advantage of the tools we’ve got in favor, as long as you do not confuse that path with the easy way or with your true path of life.
It is also true that we alter our own levels of entropy as well, by thinking and rethinking our issues too much.
“-I think you make a huge mistake by taking things too seriously –he said while taking a seat next to me- There are three kinds of bad habits which we use over and over again to confront ourselves with situations which seem out of the ordinary in this life. First, we can ignore what is happening or has happened, and feel like it never happened. That is the way of the righteous. Second, we can accept everything as it comes and feel like we know what’s going on. That is the way of the devotees. Third, we can become obsessed about one specific event because we cannot discard it or because we cannot accept it wholeheartedly. That is the way of the fool. Your way?
There is a forth way, the right way, the way of the warrior. A warrior acts as if nothing ever happened, because he does not believe in anything, but accepts all as it comes. He accepts not accepting, and disregards with no disregarding. He never feels as if he knows. He acts like if he has control, although he is shaking in fear. Acting in this way dissipates obsession.” – Carlos Castaneda. Tales of Power. Fondo de cultura económica de Argentina S.A. Buenos Aires 2009. Page 74 and 75.
A couple of weeks ago, in the awareness newsletter n° 80, we presented this video from Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice. In his conference, Schwartz explains that the capitalized system created a massive proliferation of opportunities, consumer goods, professions, ways of payment, fashion…
We go to the movies and we have more than 15 movies to choose – we want to study something, but it is all so specialized that we cannot make a conscious decision – we can get to choose among 10 different brands of mayonnaise and 23 kinds of shampoo – some cable tv services offer up to a thousand different channels – we are never happy with the first impression we made in a job interview.
This multiplicity of opportunities of the developed countries, is supposed to be an expression of freedom. You are free to choose whatever you want. But it is only an illusion, because the truth is that –as Schwartz explains in his conference– the more opportunities and options we have, the less secure we feel with what we chose and we end up with fear all the time. Fear of choosing wrong. Fear of failure. And we end up doing nothing at all. Stuck to our routine thanks to a fictional fear, induced.
Hence, more options, less happiness. For us… those who achieved an occidentalized way of living.
However, if we could adopt a frugal way of living and redistribute the excess of opportunities we have –produced by too much money circulating in one place (just think about the money moved by the football and movie industries, the latest pair of sneakers, the flat screen TV, the three air conditioners, changing the car each year)- towards the countries where they have no opportunities at all, to drink potable water, play, study, fall in love, live… we would then be doing an environmental redistribution of resources (natural, human and economic resources) in order to give the opportunities to people who can transform those circumstances into happiness. And in exchange, we would considerably be reducing our emotional entropy levels, and we would allow ourselves to be happy with less, , being able to make concrete decitions, without the fog our material world produces.
Eric Hoffer, philosopher, once said: You can never have enough of what you don’t really need.
Until next week,