It’s great to have options. But dealing with them can be a bitch.
Or so we like to say. That’s our very tag line, but, because today marks our 100th post–and is also, coincidentally, the day before the great beige food binge, I’m feeling a little sentimental and thought it would be an appropriate time to give up the but, and offer some musings on gratitude.
I’ll admit, I have a lot of big buts in my life. We all do. Especially when it comes to choices. I can’t tell you how many times, in interviews we’ve conducted for the book and conversations with friends and strangers about the book, women have expressed that very sentiment: I mean, I’m grateful to have all these choices, but… Or the slightly more optimistic: I feel blessed to have all these opportunities that women a couple generations ago didn’t, but…
One of the more scientific pieces of research that’s informed a lot of what we’re doing is Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice. (Read some of what we’ve written about it here.) I got to thinking about Schwartz again today, after coming across this piece, The Psychology of Happiness, by Elfren Sicangco Cruz. In it, Cruz writes:
In his book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz asserts that, paradoxically, happiness may lie in limiting our choices rather than increasing them. He says: “After millions of years of survival based on simple distinctions, it may simply be that we are biologically unprepared for the number of choices we face in the modern world.”
We’ve all lived the truth of that statement, but, as much as we moan and groan, kvetch and complain, no matter how overwhelmed we can be by all the analyzing, all the fantasizing over the grass we’re so sure is greener, all the musings over what we’re NOT doing, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman that would really choose to go back to a time when women had no choices, or severely limited choices, or choices that were made for them–probably by the prominent man in her life. So, to the prospect of limiting our choices, I say: no thank you very much.
This I can get behind:
Schwartz recommends that because more choices bring more opportunities for comparison, the recipe for happiness is twofold. First, make your decision irreversible. Second, constantly appreciate the life you have… Grateful people are healthier, happier, and more optimistic than people who are not.
Again, I’m not so down with the making of the decisions irreversible thing. Despite the angst it can cause, I like the security of knowing that if I blow it and pick Door Number One when I should have gone with Door Number Two, I can always try again.
The gratitude, I can get behind. So maybe, in honor of Thanksgiving, we should give it a try. Maybe, for just one day, rather than being agonized by all the things we can do, we should try to be thankful that we CAN do them at all. Maybe, rather than focusing on the overwhelm of getting it all done, we should try to be thankful that we are empowered enough even to attempt it. (And that, some days, the stars align and our to-do lists actually wind up with more things crossed off than added on.) Maybe, rather than holding up the buffet line, debating the relative merits of dark, light, or tofurkey, we should just say the hell with it, and be thankful that this is one day when we really can have it all. And stuffing and sweet potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie…
Just hold the whip cream. It goes straight to my but.