Posted by: Donna Steinhorn | August 28, 2007

Choices

Susanna asked “Who have you chosen to be?”  Susan and Natalie came face to face with mortality, Natalie through the death of a friend, Susan with a milestone birthday, and each got to choose how they grew from their experience.  And to me, that’s the answer to the philosophical question…”what is life all about?”  It’s about choices.

Choices.  The very word excites me.  It’s rife with opportunity and mystery.  What will I choose?  How will I choose?  What choices am I not aware of?   Above all, I am always grateful for the knowledge that I can choose how I live my life.  Some people are paralyzed by choices, never sure what to choose.  Others are overwhelmed by choices, because they want to be absolutely sure they choose “the right” one…afraid that once they choose, an even better option will come along.  Still others don’t really choose, whatever the first option is that presents itself is the one that they take.

Some say that we have too many choices already.  Too many brands of cereal and soap.  Too many television stations, too many emails.  They complain when the restaurant menu is too large, and opine that with so many choices, nothing can be done really well.  Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice, agrees.  He says when there are too many choices it can cause decision-making paralysis and a great deal of stress. And the world is full of them.  Too many choices to make between different brands and styles of consumer goods.  Career choices.  Where to live.  Where to go to school.  And not only who to marry, but when to marry?  Do you get married young, or wait until you’re established?

Now I am not in total disagreement.  There really are too many brands of toothpaste.  But I think all those choices are good, as long as they are a choice, and not a default decision brought on by the inability to choose, or fear of making the wrong choice.  You can always change your mind.  Make a different choice.

I embrace having choices in my life.  I revel in the ability to choose where and how I work. To choose where and what I eat.  To choose whether or not I am willing to settle for life by default, or make choices that take me down a different path.  To choose who I am and how I show up in the world based on what I value and what excites me, not what and who the world thinks a woman of my age “should be.”

As the poet, Edgar Guest said,” You are the person who has to decide. Whether you’ll do it or toss is aside; you are the person who makes up your mind. Whether you’ll lead or will linger behind.  Whether you’ll try for the goal that’s afar.  Or just be contented to stay where you are.”

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