Option Overload

paper2   As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been sorting through the little things around the house. Yesterday I tackled the “craft closet”. It was full to overflowing with fabric, paint, brushes, papers, ribbons, buttons, stickers, glitter, glue and a myriad of other supplies. When I began, I decided I would only keep what was useful or beautiful.

As I was going through the scrapbook/card-making paper, if  I didn’t think “Oh, I like this one” or “That’s a lovely color”, I didn’t keep it. When I was finished I had a moment of panic because the “go” pile was much larger than the “keep” pile. How was I ever going to do my next project with so few choices? Then, that calm little voice of reason whispered in my ear: “It’s okay, you still have plenty of options to choose from, and you think all of them are beautiful. Next time you work on a project, you won’t spend so much time and energy choosing, because now you are not adding mediocre options to the mix.” And that was wisdom I really needed to hear.

Our lives can be consumed by options. I can’t recall how many times I’ve stood in the aisle at the grocery store trying to choose between 6 different brands of tomato sauce. Or how often I’ve stood in line at a fast-food joint, looking at the menu and feeling overwhelmed because I couldn’t process all of my choices before I had to place my order. This is option overload, and it doesn’t make life better. I firmly believe it actually reduces the quality of my life.

In 1972, there were 6 sandwiches, fries, apple pie, milk, coffee, hot chocolate, shakes, 3 types of soda and an ice cream cone on McDonald’s menu. That was it, and going there was always exciting. Now, there are so many things on the menu, they have to show a PowerPoint presentation of all the options. And this is just one example of the overload we face each day. Having the ability to choose is wonderful, but sometimes we can have too much of a good thing. Choice is everywhere and it divides our attention, energy and time. it is making us less content, less productive people. We spend so much time and energy choosing, we leave ourselves very little time to actually live.

So now I have another to-do item on my list, eliminating unnecessary choices. Just because there are dozen options to choose from, it doesn’t mean I have to entertain all of them. Having fewer options can make life more simple without making it less joyful.

 

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