What have we learned about the way that we make choices as human beings? Well, we've learned that we like choice. We don't like to be told what to do. We believe the more choice we are given, the happier we will be. It turns out, however, that given too much choice, we are unhappy. We worry. What if we make the wrong choice? How can we possibly choose with so many options? If there are so many options, there must be some guidance; there must be a way to navigate the options so we know how to go about making our choice. If we are given two, or at most three, choices, we are most happy. We can make a decision that suits us best.
After living in Switzerland for one year, I had an eye-opening moment on 'choice' on a visit to the U.S. We went into a store to buy shampoo, which seemed like a simple task. However, after living in Switzerland for a year, I had gotten used to limited options (and most in a foreign language at that!). At first, I felt this felt frustrating. How could I have lost so much choice in life? But suddenly here I was, standing in a shampoo aisle in a store in the U.S., and I was baffled. I looked up and down the enormous aisle, piled high with at least six shelves of shampoos stretching for at least 50 feet. How could there possibly be so many options. So many companies. Each company had it's own reason that their shampoo was right for me. Each had a fragrance I might prefer. And each had several options unto itself. For the first time in my life, I understood what having too much choice really does inside the brain. I was just motionless, having no idea where to start. I won't take you through all the conversations that went on in my head, before I straightened up, made a decision, and grabbed a bottle of shampoo, but suffice it to say, I learned that I, in fact, do not like to have as much choice as I had thought. Who has that kind of time to spend on picking the perfect shampoo? Did the store have a shampoo consultant I could just ask to help me narrow down the hundreds of selections?
This is the way it is with our lives. When we have too much choice, we just sort of give up and either go back to something we know, something that looks familiar, or take a chance either at random, or because someone recommended something we should try.
I find this is also true with the foods, beverages, and exercise products we buy. There are SO many to choose from, and SO many people have said SO many things about SO many of them.
I took a nutrition class to be able to make more informed choices about the food and beverages I eat. I felt there was just not enough consistent, believable information coming out of the media and screaming at me from the supermarket shelves to rely on. And at the end of it all, it turns out that the reason it's all so confusing is that we're not all supposed to make the same choices. Information is inconsistent because we are not all the same person! Our choices should be different not only because we are interested in different tastes, colors, and textures, but also because our bodies react differently to different foods and nutrients. The information I have gained while attending three years at the College of Naturopathic Medicine to learn more about what to do has taught me that it depends :) Of course it does! But now I know what it depends on. Now I know how to gather information so I can make an informed choice...at least about food. Shampoo, on the other hand, is still mostly a mystery to me.