Overwhelmed by Choices? – Focus on your Deepest Values

I recently posted a comment on Facebook – (why I even read Facebook posts is another matter). The comment was about the TED talk by Barry Swartz on the Paradox of Choice. Schwartz claims that we have too many choices and it paralyzes us, rather than makes us freer.

I responded and several people responded to my response – here is the brief discussion (slightly edited):

Me: It is not that we need fewer choices – we need to be deeply connected to our values. Consulting our values will help us make the important choices, for the unimportant choices it will not matter what we choose.

Commenter 1: The choices at the root of this talk consist of boot cut, low rise, straight cut, painter, loose, etc. He is not talking about the grand, inspirational, important choices: it’s the petty ones that add up to our consumer driven experience and a frustratingly large and treacherous portion of our day to day satisfaction and expectations.

Me: Those are exactly the choices that DO NOT MATTER – if we get caught up in them it is because we are not focused on what really matters in life.

Commenter 2: I think the talk also makes it apparent that our central processing can be redirected to choices that don’t matter, leaving us too preoccupied to tend to those that do. Therefore just having values isn’t enough, we also need to be systematic about saying no to choices.

Me: …or ignoring choices. We filter out most data in the environment; we can certainly filter unimportant choices. A mother who hears her baby crying does not think about the number of choices she has to make – there is only one choice – to comfort her baby.

Michael Winters is a Psychologist in Houston focusing on marriage counseling and therapy. Michael received his PhD from the University of Memphis and has been practicing since 1991.