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A matter of choice

The art of choosing

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”

These are the concluding lines of Robert Frost’s poem – The Road not Taken.
We are presented with choices every day of our lives and our decisions lay the blueprint of our future.  So, isn’t choosing a fine art?  Do we allow our emotions to rule when we make our choices or do we go by logic?

I just finished reading a great book “The Art of Choosing” – by Sheena Iyengar.  I found this book very informative and well-researched.  It describes in great detail how culture, upbringing etc influence our everyday choices

Some choices that we encounter do not matter too much as we are not in a life/death situation.  But in life, we are presented with choices like ‘abortion’, ‘euthanasia’ etc.  Here, even consulting experts or our parents is not a solution as even after making such a choice,  we may have to live with guilt if we have not given enough thought in our decision.

The senses of children today are bombarded with videos and sound through gadgets like smartphones, tablets, televisions etc.  They are overwhelmed with media and do not have a chance to look at books and board games, unless, parents can guide them.  So is too much choice necessarily good?

In India arranged marriage is very common.  But if you tell that to a foreigner they will show be taken by surprise.  Why do we sometimes make choices against our best interests? Or are some choices driven by family, society, culture rather than one’s own interests?

Statistics does show that the success of arranged marriages is way higher than love marriage.  One reason is that, love and marriage are not the same.  And living together entails a lot of give and take!  We also find very happy couples in both type of marriages.

So is it actually advantageous to have more choices.  Does it mean we have more freedom if we have more choice or do more choices overwhelm us and make us undecisive?

The course we take can decide the future of our career.  The food we eat can decide our health.  We have a choice whether to exercise or relax.  This exciting book with numerous practical, everyday life examples  is a must-read for all of us who face the thrills and tribulations of making choices everyday.

How do you make important choices in your life?


(Sheena Iyengar holds degrees from UPenn, The Wharton School of Business, and Stanford University. She is a professor at Columbia University, and a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award. Her work is regularly cited in periodicals as diverse as Fortune and Time magazines, the NYT and the WSJ, in books such as Blink and The Paradox of Choice.)



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