Choices… Good or Bad?

We live in a land of plenty… would you agree?  We live in a land of many, many choices… would you agree?

Okay, so I have become part of the newest trend in grocery shopping… I am an online shopper… I place my order, some awesome staff member fills my order, I receive a text, pull into the parking space and someone loads the groceries into my trunk!  (Now, if they’d just come home with me and put it away… just kidding!)

But this experience, similar to one you might have as you walk the aisles of the grocery store has once again reminded me that we, perhaps, have become a world of ‘there are never enough choices’.  Consider this… I did a quick scan of the grocery store website… 102 varieties of chicken soup, 268 varieties of peanut butter, 95 varieties of orange juice, 28 varieties of ketchup!

I’m old enough to remember going to the grocery store where the items were on shelves behind the counter… I would say to the person, likely the owner, that I needed ketchup and he would reach for one on the shelf and put it on the counter… and so it went.  Were we still adequately fed with only one option for orange juice?  I think so… and I think that although choices are nice, I also think of so many in our world, our country and even in our communities who would be grateful for one carton of orange juice (actually it was a small can of frozen concentrate – anyone else remember?) or one jar of peanut butter.  Thoughts?

All this ‘whining’ about food choices led me to think about the rest of our lives.  I thought about medical care.  Last week, I was chatting with a friend about whatever happened to the days of going to the family doctor for everything instead of being referred to a dozen or so different specialists… his response was… ‘people died’… Now, he was being facetious, but the point remains – some choices in life are good for us.  I thought about the way we receive news… this one is more ambiguous for me… I remember the days when you had many, many fewer choices for how you received information… likely either the one newspaper in town, the radio or one of three channels on your television.  Did you still get the important information?  I’d opt to say, ‘yes’, and perhaps today the thousands of choices make us more confused about what’s really happening… wait, I’ll clarify… they make ME more confused about what’s really happening.  I’ve had times when I’ve taken a “news holiday”, meaning I’ve simply stopped my news intake… and I admit to mixed feelings… didn’t want to miss anything important, while at the same time taking a deep breath and being refreshed by not having so many ‘voices’ telling me what they think I need to know.  Just today I read (!) a dialogue on a neighborhood web page about whether we want another development in our community, another hundred or so homes to waste more and more acres of ‘green space’.  For the record, I really want to stand on the side with the ‘green’ savers, but one quote caught my attention… and that was a response which reminded us that all of us live on what was ‘green space’ at some time… so where do we draw the line?

Now that you’ve endured my diatribes… my really question is how do we deal with choice?  How do you deal with choice?  Research shows that the more choice we have, the more stress we have… do you agree?  Have you ever shopped online, and just given up because the choices were causing such frustration?  Have you ever said to a salesperson, “I don’t care, just pick one and give it to me.”?  That my friend, is called stress.  So, adding to my stress, I did a quick search of articles on how having to make choices is stressful, and… you guessed it… there are hundreds… talk about stress… really???

So, I’ll just go with what I’m feeling, and look forward to hearing from you…

Be thankful we live in a part of the world and in an era of time when we have so much bounty and so much to choose from.

“Tried and true” is often best… if you’ve always had frozen concentrate orange juice (!), is your life going to be stressed by having to choose from hundreds of varieties, or can you be content and satisfied with what you’ve always know to be good?

On the other hand, “expanding your horizons” also has benefits, can be healthy, can edify our lives.  So, let’s not be afraid to take the time to explore the unknown options, and be willing – perhaps excited – to try new things, listen to new opinions, do things differently… I’m guessing we’ll find that we’ll “grow” – emotionally, socially, personally, perhaps spiritually – if we do that…

Know for yourself, the difference and the boundaries between the two statements above.  Instead of allowing choice to create stress, by being sure of your own identity, perhaps you will be able to identify ways to grow and ways to allow your roots to ground you.

I think Nelson Mandela had it right… he said, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”  So, in closing… do you know there have been more than 100 varieties of “Oreo Cookies©” created… talk about stress!  Let’s try again… in closing… this was a rather scattered and random chain of thoughts… I’m left pondering how I feel about choices, I admit to being a bit stressed (!) by that, and I’m really looking forward to your feedback… take care…

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