Brain Food #378

Is it better to have choices than to make them?

Daily Brain Food.

Thoughts of the day

Does the concept of choice make us happy or unhappy? Is having choices the optimal state, but making them a recipe for disappointment? Life starts and takes an infinite number of turns as a result of a chain of choices, though many are made for us by others until society, or out family, deems us ready to start making our own.

Every choice we make inevitably leads to the next range of choices. Research around the paradox of choice has shown that the more the choices we face, the more imperfect the information we have is to make the right one. How can we make well-informed decisions when we have been conditioned to avoid risk, trust our gut and remember that life is finite and should be lived to the fullest?

Yet, the idea of free will dictates that this is the very gift of being human. Making a choice will always leave behind doubts about what could have been, but at least we have the right to choose in the first place.

How much of our will is actually free remains, in any case, debatable. Perhaps that is strangely liberating to consider, that we are all on a secret auto-pilot, as Malcolm Gladwell wrote, programmed long ago, that will make decisions for us anyway.

“Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.”

— Arthur Schopenhauer


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