Personal Online Journal

Monday, September 07, 2009

Paradox of Choice and Delighting in Fatness

A few days ago, a friend recommended that I watch Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice.

I remember hearing his story of being less satisfied with his purchase of jeans today than years ago when there was only one kind of jeans. In his experience, he ended up with a pair of jeans that fit far better than when there was only one kind. He was disappointed because he had concluded (I think unconsciously) that because there were so many choices there must have been one that fit perfectly. When he noticed something not perfect about the new pair, it was easy to think that he chose the wrong one.

He started his talk with a dogma of western civilization. It goes like this
- We should maximize welfare
- This means maximize freedom
- This means maximize choice
- More choice means more freedom
- More freedom means more welfare

Here are some more of some notes I took:

The secret to happiness is low expectations

Why Choice Makes People Miserable
1. Regret and anticipated regret
2. Opportunity Costs
3. Escalation of expectations
4. Self blame

We do better and feel worse

He concludes that income redistribution will make everyone better off because those that have too much choice will give more choice to those who have too little.

His perspective was very enlightening. I agree that I can easily slip into unhappiness by not being conscious of the choices I make. I do not, however, agree with his redistribution conclusion. I do think we are happier when we are charitable and give voluntarily of what we have been blessed with. "capitalism is the least worst system available to us — until Zion can be achieved" (Geoff B.)

If I allow myself to be consumed with these kinds of consumer-centric choice I will lead an unsatisfying life. This reminds me of what Nephi said,
Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness. (2 Ne 9:51)
Yesterday, my elder's quorum president gave a lesson on submitting our will to our Heavenly Father. He recently got a puppy, a mix between a lab and a pit bull. He has watched the Dog Whisperer. Following the teachings of that show, he recently held the dog down with his hand after it was trying to nip at his children. He gently but firmly held the dog to the floor with his hand. He had to hold it there for about five minutes until the dog finally relaxed and submitted.

His wife asked him if he was just breaking the spirit of the dog. I don't think he was. I have seen the show. It is a little disconcerting to watch him or the owners hold their dogs down like that. Yet this is what will bring the dog happiness. Dogs are happiest when they are submissive. They just need to be shown true leadership in a way dogs understand. Then they are so happy and they willingly live by the rules of the house.

The Lord is wise to allow me to work out my destiny here on earth outside of His presence. If I tried to get comfortable choosing the right in His house, I would need swift and perhaps final judgment on my behavior. Instead He planned a way for me to work out my salvation. Adam fell so that evil came into our world. Jesus came and provided for every good thing. So I find myself in this world where I learn very well between good and evil. The Lord is gratefully not present while I figure this out. When I choose badly, I experience pain and emptiness. Hopefully I learn and choose better. I feel the freedom that comes from entering into a covenant relationship with God. That I really can be forgiven. That I really can have another chance. I can choose to come closer to Father in Heaven. I can draw closer by obeying the Light the Lord shows me.

I am not talking about choosing a pair of jeans that fits, but following that voice that says, "why don't you get up and let Steph sleep this morning". Or the many many other messages about living according to the truth I know. This kind of choice is necessary and much more satisfying that mere consumer decisions. Real joy comes from submitting my will to that of my Heavenly Father.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

You're a sweetie for choosing to let me sleep in sooo much. Thank you for all your righteous choices and for setting such a great example for me and our family.