Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others but remains more of a slave than they are.
The world of choices
We make choices every minute of our life. They range from simple ones to more complex but choice is an enviable part of our day-to-day life. When we are going out of our home we have a choice how to reach our destination - whether using our private car, carpool, public transport, bicycle or other options available… One may choose not to leave a comfort of their own house as the vast variety of products are available to purchase through the Internet and be delivered right to your doorsteps. We are able to choose where we want to live, where and how long we want to work, what our next vacations would look like as well as what pair of sock to wear today. We are surrounded by choices we have to make on every step of our routine life. Moreover, the technologies we have nowadays have given us the freedom to do them everywhere and the way we want it.
At the same time, such an abundance has the other side of it. Sometimes we get frustrated whether or not to make this particular choice or it is better to wait or consider the other options.
Professor Catalina Toma, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison states:
Sifting through choices is potentially problematic in that it can create the perception that the grass is always greener.”
The endless possibility of choice leads us to the state where we eventually start asking ourselves questions like “What might have been” or “What if” and this on its own lower our satisfaction of what is possibly already IS a good choice.
Lets put it straight - the possibility of lots of choices make us wonder of other possibilities that we would have missed while making one particular choice and it puts us emotionally down or stop us of making a decision at all. To sum up, in real freedom of choice puts us in a cage of constant frustration, doubts, and self-criticism for the choice we make.
Image (c) @sashagenji. Eligible to re-use
In 2000 researchers Sheena S. Iyengar from Columbia University and Mark R. Lepper from Stanford University conducted an interesting study they called “When choice is demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?’. Their team went to in an upscale California grocery to find out how choice influences the decisions of customers as well as the university classrooms to check the readings of students to undertake the additional set of essays. The conclusion was something to think about. The researchers concluded that “ the study shows that people are more likely to purchase gourmet jams or chocolates or to undertake optional class essay assignments when offered a limited array of 6 choices rather than a more extensive array of 24 or 30 choices. Moreover, participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections and wrote better essays when their original set of options had been limited.“ Furthermore, being presented with the options of 24 or 30 choices the people under jam purchase study have a rank of buying of 3% (compared to the 30% 6 choices) that confirms too many options can lead to frustration pushing people to leave without anything rather than making a choice.
He who knows the real value of his choice
I think many of us can say that meeting a particular person has changed their life. For me, such person appeared during my first ever trip to India. If you think it was a guru or a yoga teacher or any kind of spiritual person who you can find in abundance there, you will be wrong. The person who changed my vision of the world was a simple guy who day after day was selling coconuts in the Ashram we stayed.
What was the most amazing in this guy is that he enjoyed what he did and his life every second. He treated every customer as a friend and always shared his smile with them. He sang loudly, sometimes echoing the melody of the song while cutting a coconut with his blade. I loved watching him and his simple way of life. He seemed not being bothered by weather this coconut to choice or that one or maybe the one above. No, he just would pick the one he though is suitable for the client depending on the request. He would wear the same pair of shorts day after day occasionally changing it to just a piece of material covering the lower part of his body. And he would still do the same routine he usually did without procrastinating his time thinking if this is the right outfit for the job or should he go and change it.
For me he was the one who accepted his way of living. The one, who has not been thinking that this is not good and I have to be like Mister X, he just enjoyed what he had and what the World had to offer him. No regrets and doubts. His choice was simple - to enjoy life whatever it brings him and does it every second of his life.
Acceptance as the key to one's happiness
I work with people. Therefore I meet a lot of people every day. Sometimes I dare to ask: “What do you really want from your life?” Most often people seem to be puzzled by the question itself and would come up with a serious of vague answers. Someone would even be not able to formulate the answer. At the same time, the most common conclusion is that even if I do not know what do I want, I definitely want it to be better than now.
That a serious statement. The fact is that 86 out of 100 people are not satisfied with their life despite all the possible choice they could have made in a modern world.
I think this simple statement “I want it to be better than now" is one of the deepest problems of a modern society.
It seems that we fully accept the fact that somewhere else is better than there are you now. Someone would definitely have a life better than you.
The whole system of a modern world build on this principle - to show you that somewhere someone lives better than you. And let's face it - it is everywhere.
We have been surrounded by this from our very young age and more we grew more it appeared in our life. From the choice of the school and University to the choice of what to wear and where to live - we are often forced to compare what we have and what is the other options around. That unconditionally makes us wonder whether what we have it is enough, should we stick to our old phone or change it to a new iPhone X as this is the thing everyone around has or want to have.
Image (c) @sashagenji. Eligible to re-use
FoMO is the acronym for Fear of Missing Out. Such phenomenon first was described by a marketing strategist Dr. Dan Herman in 1996. it states for a state of "a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. Sometimes it also attributes to a fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying events. In other words, FoMO is the general idea of fear of having made a wrong decision or missing out a great opportunity, social interaction, etc.
The research “Fear of Missing Out” conducted by JWTIntelligence made among UK and US citizens aged 16-34 years old in 2011 with further updates shows the interesting results how they affected by FoMO. Thus, as many as 70% of adult Millennials said they can completely or somewhat relate to the FoMO effect , while T een Millennials also relate to the concept (app 65%) with 40% of teen Millennials saying that they experience FOMO often or sometimes. Some Gen Xers can also relate to FOMO (51%), with 25% saying they experience it at least sometimes.
Information Sources: WikiPedia and Fear of Missing Out Report conducted by JWTIntelligence
With the growth of technology this small influence we experience is becoming even less obvious - you might decide not to watch TV to avoid all of the ads and unnecessary information. Yes, all plug-in, the pop-up and Facebook ads, push notifications on your phone, etc would be a constant reminder of the fact that there is a magical world where everything is better, that this or that thing will bring you happiness, will make you rich or whatever you want it to be. The technology is getting smarter to track your preferences and find the way to remind you of it. Every time it does you go back to the same circle - I do not have it and feel disappointment or uncertainty if you should find a way to have it.
All it does it distracts you from the real fact - that you and you alone can decide what is better for you.
The choice is yours to make.
I believe that if we all start changing this “I want it to be better than now” to something like “I am happy with all I got and I know what I want” the world is going to be a different place. We are all so different and if we sit down and think for a while we understand that we do not need to have much, to make an enormous amount of money or have a good partner to be happy.
The “to have list” of every single person is so different and unique and the resources on the Planet are so vast that I am sure you can always get what you want. Funny enough all you need to do is a conscious choice to start choosing things that are really necessary for you or the ones that make your really happy. Perhaps, it would be the first step to reduce mass-production of things that are now widely popular but do not have a real necessity to humans.
I also believe that happiness is your personal choice. You have a freedom to just decide that the life you live is a precious gift and start value each second of it as the coconut seller in India does rather than wondering and having concerns of what if…
Through my life, I have been seeing so many changes in people who once decided to live the way they want. I would say that was always an easy path for them yet very rewarding on every single step they did and do. What I like about them is the way how their eyes start to shine and their enthusiasm to pursue what they think is important.