January 15

Today's quotation:

The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice.

Abbe d'Allainval

Today's Meditation:

If you go into any store that sells toothpaste these days, you'll find an incredible selection of products available for purchase.  Not only are there a lot of companies producing toothpaste, but each company is producing many different types of toothpastes that serve all sorts of functions, from tartar control to cavity prevention to whitening--and many different combinations of purposes.  This is one of the major drawbacks to our consumer-oriented economy:  we've created so many different choices of products that a "simple" choice is no longer possible in many situations.

When I drive into a large city, where do I do my shopping?  There are many large stores that are very similar to each other and that offer similar products at similar prices that are vying for my business--which do I visit?  If I go to this one, will I end up paying more money?  Perhaps this other one will have a better selection. . . .

There are many, many television stations that all are vying for our attention, hoping to get us to watch their programs.  There are tons of magazines that all are designed to get us to buy them.  There are millions of websites that would like us to visit them and buy from them.

I'm not saying that there should be only one of each product available, but there have been quite a few studies done that show that trying to choose between many different options significantly raises our stress levels and turns an event like shopping into something unpleasant and stressful.  If we can develop our own unique decision-making processes, though, we can make our choices much more simple and thus lower our stress levels.

With toothpaste, for example, I know exactly which features I want, and I find a product that offers those at a price that's acceptable to me.  Once I find that product I stick with it--not because I like to get into ruts, but because I don't want to go through that particular decision-making process again.  When I go into town, I decide on a store and I go there only, realizing that I may not be able to buy certain things, but that my trip is going to be more pleasant.  I'll spend a couple of dollars more at one store so that I can save time and gas by not going to another one.

We have to deal with choices, but it's wise to develop our own personal criteria for our decision-making processes.  Otherwise, we might find that we're caught up in the process, raising our stress levels and turning possibly positive experiences into negative ones.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of choices do you deal with on a day-to-day basis?

What are some of the most important elements of your personal decision-making processes?

Why do we have so many choices in so many areas of our lives?  Is this necessarily a positive aspect of our lives?

For further thought:

The need to make wise choices encompasses every area of our lives.  Since we have time for only a limited amount of stuff, we need to choose wisely what stuff we're going to allow to take up that time. Since we have only a limited amount of time to spend with friends or to engage in leisure activities, we need to choose our friends and our activities wisely.

Elaine St. James

  

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