Why Having More Choices Can Make You Feel Less Happy

It all boils down one thing. But first, let’s go through a typical day.

From the minute you wake up, your mind would have gone through a long list of decisions to make.

  • What will I have for breakfast?
  • What clothes do I wear today?
  • Which pair of shoes would go with it?
  • What should I prioritize at work?
  • What can I order for lunch?
  • Which flavor of ice cream shall I have?
  • Which coffee shall I order?
  • Should I opt for plan A, D, or F?
  • Shall I have meat tonight or fish?
  • Which brand of tissues should I go for? Brand of shampoo?
  • Which show do I watch on Netflix? Which program do I watch on tv?

And the list goes on, and longer especially when you are a parent, a spouse, and you’re trying to do all things and squeeze them all in one day.

Is choosing meant to be a joy-stealer? No. Then why is it draining our energy? Mind you,

It’s not the decision that’s exhausting us, it’s the number of options we have on the table.

Think about these.

If you only have one pair of office shoes, you’d just wear them every day regardless of the style or color of clothes you put on.

If there’s only one brand of tissue, one brand of shampoo, your trip to the grocery store would be done in less than half an hour.

If there’s only one show on Netflix, you never have to scroll through it for too long. You just decide whether to watch it or not.

If there’s only one school in your town or city, you won’t have to spend time comparing. Instead, you can focus your energy on finding ways to pay off tuition fees.

Too many options lead us to experience what Psychologists call Decision Fatigue. It’s

the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.

Wikipedia

Why? Because,

We use the same amount of willpower every time we make a decision regardless if it’s important or not.

Having too many options before us can be exhausting. Imagine scanning through a lot of information, choices, and combinations, that you end up feeling like, you don’t know what you want anymore. So when you’re faced with more important decisions, you’re left with depleted energy, no focus, and no wits.

There’s no quick way to fix this, but definitely,

We could start with reducing our choices

Dr. Laurie Santos- Yale University

Perhaps:

  • Have the same thing for dinner every night. Create a routine.
  • Have a fewer set of clothes, or stick to two pairs of shoes.
  • Stick to one color theme at home.
  • Only keep one phone. One tv. One mug, if you’re living alone.

Whatever you decide, keep things simple so it’s easier for you. Remember, you only have limited mental energy for the day. Make sure you use it, where it matters the most.

Pancakes It Is For Me

Pancakes.  I love to wake up each morning to the smell of it. The sensation it gives equates to a fresh beginning. A promise of a new day, stuffed with a basket of hope and a few more dreams. 

We all have to have something to look forward to every day, else, our lives would be dull and meaningless.  You have to know that you’re made for more. Do you know why?  

 

 

Your heart skips at the sight of sunflowers and roses, or the smell of meadows and green fields. You smile at the sound of children’s laughter more so of a baby’s chuckle. Your face glows, and your body less tense at a loved one’s touch, or a friend’s hug-  the warmth of it, the comfort, the sincerity of  “I’m with you”- even in the absence of words.

We are a feeling creature, and what moves us, MOVES us. Think about it.

  • You feel inspired, you write more stories.
  • You feel bold, you dream more, you dream big.
  • You feel loved, you yield.
  • You feel strong, you give a hand.
  • You feel happy, your steps turn into leaps.

 

But how about in your not-so-great days?  You feel bored, lazy, incapable, unsure, tired, or on the brink of giving up?  Is there something that can do the trick? Surprisingly, yes!

Emotion follows motion.  You act until you feel like it. This is still you, but this time, you’re throwing the ball instead of swinging the bat. Wondering how?

Say it’s the first day of the week, and you’ve got to get to work.  If you’re stuck with an uninspiring job, the drive to your workplace, all the way to the steps leading to your desk, feels like doomsday.

Picture this. You’re treading down a narrow path leading to a tiny cubicle, with a mini desk, filled with hills and mountains of paperwork. Your steps feel heavy right? You’re feeling down already, but you have to work. So try this. Don’t walk on your way to your desk. Skip. More like bounce.  Like you’re dancing. It’s hard to do that and not smile right? Your muscles need to harmonize. So smile.  Notice this time, It’s hard to bounce and smile and not feel happy. So then take the liberty to poke your heart.  Your mind will then start to talk.    

Mind to Heart.  You know life is too short. Let’s give it our best shot. Even just for today. Tomorrow will have its own time,  I mean, It’s for another day. But right now, it’s you, me, and this awesome body taking on this day. Let’s do this! Ahhh and I’m so looking forward to that cup of barley tonight, and a fresh stack of pancakes in the morning, with blueberries on top? (and so it goes).

 

 

Emotion follows motion. Try it. Your days are too precious to leave it gloomy and sad. Make it happy. Throw in glitters of hope.You owe it to your self. 

Come on. Smile already. 🙂

 

 

What You Need To Know About Happiness

It cannot be found. The world doesn’t owe it to you. It can’t be guaranteed by anyone or anything, not even by a therapist, an enlightened guru, or by any amount of wealth, fame and power.

Chasing happiness makes it elusive, just like sleep when you desperately want it.  So where does happiness lie? How does one get to possess it?

Let me tell you a story about a wealthy family. 

One day there was this boy who’s celebrating his 8th birthday. As a present, his parents took him down the countryside for the weekend. They stayed in a spacious cabin by the lake, not very far from a small farm. This was the very first time that the family ever spent time away from the city.  

 

The next day, the father took his kid fishing, and both decided to stay until mid-afternoon to feast on their catch.  After having their fill, they decided to take a longer route going back and happened to pass by the small farm. 

The pair saw the family living there spending some fun afternoon just outside their barn.  Three kids are running around, playing with chickens and goats, climbing and jumping down haystacks. Two men sipping their cup of hot tea while a teenage boy plays a folk song in his rugged jeans with his old guitar entertaining the older men. Coming out from an old wooden house, a young woman and an elderly lady are carrying a plate of freshly baked cookies and a pile of bread, bidding the kids to come and grab some. 

As the father and son moved in closer, the oldest man from the farm noticed them, and without hesitation waved and invited the two to stop by. The rich man hesitated, said thank you and carried on.  

As the pair inch further away, the boy can’t help but look back and glance at the family again and again. Finally, they reached the cabin. The night was already deep and the farm was out of sight.

At the dinner table, the boy recounted his day and out of the blue, he quipped.

Boy: “Dad, I realize they are richer than us”.

Dad: “Who, son”?

Boy: “The family at the farm”.

Dad: “What do you mean? They don’t have much. But we, own a lot of companies, live in a huge house, lots of cars, you can have all the sweets you want, and you’re always safe as I have servants looking after you, drop you to school and pick you up.  There’s freedom in our wealth, son, you can do anything”!

Son: “Well dad, they have a million lights above them, they have the stars. And the sky is huge, they get to enjoy it every time. They are always together, they look very happy and they celebrate every moment. They don’t just pass the time, they live it, savor it, just like those freshly baked cookies. It smelled so delicious and to them, every moment is treated like that. And it seems they didn’t feel scared.  They don’t have big men watching over them or guarding them. I think they have Someone bigger and stronger than the guards we have. I don’t know. But I just feel they’re richer than us, they’re freer, happier, and I think they’ve got something really special”.

The father was astonished about what he heard and was lost for words. 

My friend, happiness cannot be circumstantial because it’s within us- a sleeping giant that just needs to be awakened. You don’t need any magic tricks, fancy cars, shiny shoes or mansions. You don’t need to be a superstar nor would you need a hermit to reveal an ancient secret to you. Happiness is already in you. You just need to bring it out. Your spark, your gift, your beauty, your goodness, it lies at the very core of your being. 

The challenge? Piece by piece, layer by layer, strip yourself off with your masks, pretensions, pride, hate, with worldly desires and dependencies. Your soul and your heart, in it’s barest state, reveals the true you, and because of so much goodness that lies within that core, there lies not just happiness, but pure joy too.

You are your own joy. Celebrate your being, and move the world beautifully in ways that only you can.

 

Once

I never appreciated the value of gratefulness until I woke up one day to realize that in my pursuit of happiness it was the missing piece.

Knowing and being thankful for your blessings is one thing.  But naming your blessing and calling them out one by one in the face of sadness and despair is another.

Lately, I’ve been so absorbed with the discomfort of a body pain. I’ve been dealing with it for years. I would whine about it in my mind and blame it for things I couldn’t do, for my short temper, and intolerance to just about anything. Though I never blurted my dissatisfaction out loud nor acted on the annoyance I get to contend with every day, the inner struggle was real and was taking its toll on me. Depression set in, to a point where I questioned, “Why am I even here if I’m up to no good”. Believe me, it wasn’t always my narrative. At at a young age, I already believed I was special- just like everyone else.

My appreciation of every person as being unique and innately good, made me sought and believe in the undeniable gift that every human being can bring into this world- the gift of being their own authentic self.

But though inherently pure and innocent, we cannot deny the truth that as we grow old, our minds get corrupted, we get tempted, we grow frail, and of course, we retire, for good.  Often times we forget about these realities and wonder why people do hurtful things and make bad choices.  We get worried when we start to feel physically weak and we get drawn into the illusion that our strongholds will always be there, till they betray us or leave us.

A time will come when these truths will sink in and find their way to unsettle our steady hearts. Some realities we can change, and some we can’t.  And because not everything in our lives is perfect we have to take the good with the bad. When bad gets overwhelming, we have to start reminding ourselves of things that are actually working in our lives. Mastering this power will help us focus on what we have, instead of magnifying the things that we lack.

“Once I get that gold medal, I will be happy”.

“Once I get a raise I’ll be more passionate about my job” 

“Once I hit the lottery, I’ll be generous to every person I know.

“Once this sickness goes away, I will work to achieve my goals.”

“Once I have everything I could ever want, I vow to love everyone I meet”.

Conditions. We attached them to promises, to our purpose, and to our goals. But do these conditions need to be satisfied before we start doing the things that we know we’re supposed to do?  What if we remove them and declare that starting now,

“I will be happy”.

“I will be more passionate with my job”. 

“I will be generous to every person I know”.

“I will fulfill my dreams”.

“I will love all the people around me”.

Anything is pretty much doable, don’t you think? Getting rid of conditions we set for ourselves, rewards us with the freedom of making our own deliberate choices, regardless of our circumstances.  And that ultimately defines the person we become.

We can only go as far as we allow ourselves to go. So enough with conditions and excuses. The world doesn’t owe us anything. But we owe one thing to the world- – a better us.

 

Question.

What conditions have you set for yourself? How did it limit you in any way? What big decisions did you make? Share your thoughts. Love to hear from you.

Make Room

Photo Credit: Philipp Berndt
“If people are not traveling the same path as yours, it doesn’t mean that they are lost”- #sundaewrites

 

I grew up getting almost everything I want.  I was fortunate to have a doting father. Though I’m forever grateful for that, such near perfection didn’t help much in my ability to accept failure, defeat, and rejection during my adult life. I was overly sensitive and had a strong desire to be liked, to be accepted, and be noticed.  For me to get that, I worked really hard to please other people, to be the best that I can be, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to.

I knew then that being Miss Ideal would get me raving fans, and that’s exactly what I’ve got– raving fans.Then I realized there were still other people who I can’t seem to reach– the imperfect ones. The problem kids, troubled teenagers, the unpopular, the nobodies. I thought, if I want to be to be liked by them, I had to be like them.  So I switched sides.  That decision completed my experience on both sides of the world.

After all the hassles and risks, do you think I was accepted, liked and loved?  I believe I was, but it was never enough.  And I figured out why. There was one person left in the room who’s not giving me what I want. That person was me.

Do you wonder why you are unhappy, or dissatisfied?  Why you long so much to find happiness in your outside world?  It’s because your inner world is broken.  It’s not as bright as it supposed to be. It’s dark, dull, empty and confused.

Let me put something on your plate.

Lower your expectations of others.

People make mistakes.  There are days when they are not the best versions of themselves. And some days they couldn’t care about you.  They have issues too you know.  And you can’t compel them to place you at the center of their lives.  They are the center of their lives as much as you are the center of your own. A person who can’t take care of himself isn’t capable of taking care of another human being.  Even if he tries, the fire will soon die if he neglects to add fuel to the furnace. Putting that fuel is something you do yourself. It’s not anyone else’s job.  So own it.

Forgive yourself as often as you can, then do better.

Admit it. You are impatient with others because you are impatient with yourself.  You remain miserable because while others have moved on, you chose to carry the weight around you. Trust me, you’ll never get anywhere if you keep reliving your failures. Feel sorry yes, but don’t dwell on it for too long. Confront yourself with “what now”, enough with “Why, me?.”

Stop projecting your desired realities on to others.

That’s just fair, isn’t it? Because you don’t want others as well to tell you what you should do or supposed to have to be completely happy. Happiness, after all, is an inside job.The fulfillment of such rests on you. So allow people to live a life that is true to them. You have your own to worry about.

photo credit: Aaron Burden

Our life has its own unique design. As a saying goes, “If people are not traveling the same path as yours, it doesn’t mean that they are lost”We have our own space and time to fill.  Respect that and you will learn to lower the bars for other people and adjust the bars you set for yourself.

Don’t fret about getting what you want. Don’t be somebody else’s responsibility. Better than that, give life whenever you can and nourish your inner world as much as you should.

Question:

Was there an instance in your life where you believed someone failed you? How was your journey during that phase? How did it change your perspective in life? Comment here. I want to listen to your heart. Let me hear you.