It’s Dec. 1. From now until the New Year, you will be faced with a lot of choices. From the gifts you will give to which meal will you go ham on at the buffet table. There will be the decision of what to wear to the party and which party will you be hitting up. Not to mention where exactly you’ll be spending your vacation. Have you chosen which dates when you will be jetting off to and which hotel you’ll be checking in?
Life is going to be full to the brim with options. It’s going to feel great at first. Everything will be like the opening of a Cirque Du Soleil show, full of wonder and promise.
Eventually, and unlike a Cirque spectacle, it will feel like you’re drowning. In general, we make so many decisions every day to the point that we suffer fatigue from it. How many times did you just give up on which soap brand to get out of the shelf offering different promises: moisturizing, all-day fragrance, infused with olive oil, is promoted by your favorite movie star (yes, this is factor to me), only to end up with the cheapest one, one that you don’t really like that much.
Fast Company writes that “having too many choices in our creative and professional lives can lead us to avoid making important decisions.” Sometime between shopping gifts and heading to yet another pop up, don’t be surprised if you feel the spirit of Christmas waning a little bit. No matter how much you will press Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album (or are you going to play the one from Gwen Stefani? See, options!), you might end up like the Grinch.
At the dinner table, you will have to make peace with the fact you’re trading the benefits of your current exercise for a lot of sinful calories. You might even get a bit too happy and drink too much.
You’re going to go to another party because the last one ended too early. You’re going to miss out on sleep, knowing you will second guess you decision to a pounding headache the next day.
You will want to make sure you have everything you can positively have to make you happy.
It’s not bad to want a lot of things. But the irony of having so many options is that you will always feel like you’re missing out. You will always feel that choosing just one thing will make you wonder what it was like if you chose the other. Christmas is a great time to see just how much we always want to get more when we already have enough in front of us. We are so scared of missing out on our choices and not making the most of the options we are presented.
Professor Barry Schwatz, author of The Paradox of Choice, talks at length that even if freedom is essential in our self-actualization, it can be damaging. Our capitalist culture has given us so much options more than any other generation before us.
“The more choice people have, the more freedom they have. And the more freedom they have, the more welfare they have,” says the professor. But the the problem is, we are now entrapped by our choices. We are pressured to make the best one, to maximize our freedom, to buy the very latest phone model, only to anticipate the next one.
When you feel the burn out of so many gifts, up to your chin in Christmas treats and somehow still frowning, it’s time to make one last decision: What are the choices that matter to you the most?
Art by Lara Intong
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