A few months after dropping out of university I was sitting in an internet cafe in Macau, China, staring at google and wondering what the hell to do now…
I’d just hitchhiked across Australia and Indonesia trying to get on yachts to sail to these very shores.
And there I was, a literal universe of opportunities sparkling before my eyes…
And yet I was deeply upset.
I was tormented by ideas, options, considerations, fear, regret, comparison, responsibility, and self loathing.
Overwhelmed by the choices that lay before me I slowly turned insomniac, clawing at the sheets and beating the pillow as I’d beg for sleep night after night.
The Paradox of Choice captures this moment, and many more moments in my life where the abundance of choice left me paralysed or wracked with regret.
It’s a book that lifts the curtain and shows you how the mechanisms of inifite options enslave rather than liberate.
While some choice is a beautiful thing, much of the choices we are offered act only to congest the increasingly clogged arteries of our mind.
“What’s the solution?” I hear you say.
The book covers this in detail, but it can be summed up with two ideas:
Knowing yourself – when you know who you are, you can make the important distinction of when to choose and when not to choose.
In other words you know what is worth investing your limited mental resources in, and what decisions should be automated.
Gratitude – this is as close as it gets to a panacea. Gratitude helps us appreciate what we have, want for less, and be satisfied with the choices we do make.
Investing energy into these two areas will go a long way to easing the burden of being an animal wired for hardship, living in a world of abundance.