The Paradox of Choice – Why More Can Be Too Much (Too Many Choices)

The Paradox of Choice

Have you ever decided to buy an item on Amazon but then became frozen by the total number of choices out there – and left the site without buying anything?

Me too. In fact, I have done this countless times. Who can pick from 150 different white curtains? Or 300 different toothbrushes?

Life is full of choices – good and bad, big and small.

Scientists say we literally make thousands of decisions every day, even though many of them are unconscious. But if we had to consciously think through each and every one of those decisions, we would be exhausted all the time.

This is why our brains make lots of unconscious decisions for us. It saves brain energy and keeps us from being overwhelmed every minute of every day.

And while having choices in life is a good thing, I would make the argument that too many choices can be a bad thing – just as having no choices can also be bad.

You see, the key to almost everything is life is moderation. See The Key To (Almost) Everything in Life: Practicing Moderation here.

Things were not always this way. In the book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz makes the point that our grandparents were not faced with quite the barrage of choices that we face. For example, if their washing machine stopped working and they needed a new one, they simply went down to their local store and picked from the two or three models available. Then they took it home and didn’t give that choice another thought.

It is common today for shoppers to do hours, days, even weeks of research before purchasing a new appliance. And even that does not guarantee that buyer’s remorse will not follow the purchase. The fear of missing out, or FOBO, is often joked about but is also a real thing.

What if I had bought the model that was self-cleaning? And what if the third review was right and this model has plastic gears that will wear out?

Regret is a powerful thing, and in our world of perpetual data and reviews we might never figure out which item is truly the best. That sets us up for the uncertainty that leads to the regret.

I bought the audio version of The Paradox of Choice and listened to it all the way through in my car while traveling. Then I started at the beginning and listened to the whole thing again.

After this, I came to understand many of the reasons why I was so stressed and impatient. My brain was simply working too hard to sort out the choices in my life.

We are all fairly smart when it comes to self care these days. Like everyone else, I read and research the latest information on how to be aware and happy. I know to cut off the electronics.  I only engage social media in the pursuit of passing on useful information. I get quiet time and meditation into my schedule almost daily.

I but I never knew I needed to put a wall between myself and so many decisions.

Before you ask, yes, this can be done. First, just being aware that so many choices are out there (and stressing you) can help you get a handle on the situation.

Second, put as many things on autopilot as possible. For example, many people have a rotating dinner menu. They simply repeat the same recipes in the same order, and occasionally add in a new one for variety.  Also, many people make their own “uniform” for work by purchasing multiples of the same shirt and pants and wearing the same outfit every day.

Third, limit the amount of time you search for an item you want to buy. At the end of that time, make a decision based on the information you have at that point.

Fourth, make a commitment not to expend energy on making unimportant decisions.

Fifth, dedicate a few minutes each day to meditation. You can start slow with two or three minutes and work your way up 10 or 20. Some people incorporate even more each day. You can find the sweet spot that works for you.

Life can be so much simpler than we make it. This is a great place to start.

The Key To (Almost) All Things in Life: Practicing Moderation

Practicing ModerationModeration is a word that get a bad rap these days. Overindulgence is heavily flaunted in the media and also on social sites. It looks like so much fun to go all out on everything in life that extreme behaviors have become the new normal. Almost no one even thinks they are abnormal anymore.

But doesn’t it get tiring trying to carry EVERYTHING to the extreme?!?

There is another way.

The word “moderation” might not sound exciting or glamorous, but it will carry you a long way in life.  Engaging in some behavior, but not TOO much – works in many areas of our lives: eating, sleeping, exercising, etc.

It also works with possessions. Every person needs SOME stuff, but TOO MUCH stuff becomes overwhelming. (Hoarders is a show that both fascinates and scares me.)

But I have found the principle of moderation to work in (almost) every facet of life. Spending versus saving money, following your passion versus earning a high income, and hours working versus hours relaxing –  more great examples. You must practice moderation in each of these categories lest you become too extreme in one area or the other.

I’m sure everyone reading this can come up with multiple more examples. The point is this: it is so easy to go along with everyone else around you. For example, you work too much because everyone else does, and also you feel it is expected of you.

Or maybe you spend too much or overextend your credit because you want your children to have the same vacation or Christmas as all their friends.

Stop and take a breath.

We have more control over our lives than we sometimes realize. When you decide to live intentionally you exercise your right be who you really want to be. You don’t really have to live your life in extreme debt, extreme stress, or extreme tiredness.

Decide to mindfully practice moderation in all (or most) aspects of your life and it will simplify your decisions – both big and small.

Your Christmas decorations don’t have to be bigger and better than everyone else on your block. Remember, moderation. Put up the decorations that make you happy instead. Then stop.

You don’t have to coordinate every office party at work. Decide to do one each year and delegate the rest with a sign up sheet. It is even possible to do too much for others. See The Benefits of Serving Others.

There are literally hundreds of ways most people can make their lives better with moderation.  Along with the principle of moderation comes the ability to say “no”. Sometimes that means saying it to yourself. Sometimes it means saying to others.

Try mindfully using moderation for just one week and watch what happens. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Serving Others

The Benefits of Serving Others

As recent as a few decades ago, people put a lot of value on helping and serving others. You saw it woven throughout the fabric of our society. People helped their neighbors, their friends and their family anytime there was a need. It was a reciprocal relationship. When it was your turn, then someone helped you.

Fast forward to today…….

We live in a world that can sometimes feel very individualistic and self-centered. Many reality stars, particularly, have gained fame and fortune by appearing selfish and putting themselves before those around them. We also see this theme with many entertainers, sports stars, and even politicians. 

These people often appear to be the “winners” in life, right? They make headlines with their antics and things they say, while they rake in huge paychecks and live luxurious lives. Everything about being selfish appears to pay off, so they keep on doing it. And we support it by watching their shows, following them on social media, and eventually emulating them. That is how it leaks into everyday society.

But what ever happened to being a good person with solid morals? Do people even remember what those are anymore?

Society didn’t become this way overnight. It has been a slow progression. Years ago, it was common to herald virtues such as selflessness and helping others, but as the number of consumer goods continued to rise, so did the amount of greed. A couple decades ago, one of the popular bumper stickers read “Whoever dies with the most toys wins”. I haven’t seen that sticker in a long time, but that thought still prevails with most of society. 

I don’t think most people who live this way are even conscious of it. This way of life has become so ingrained in us that we only see it as doing what we are supposed to, which shows just how distorted things have become.

There are scores of articles detailing how social media has made people envious of the supposed “perfect” lives of their friends, family and neighbors. And, I understand, it is easy to assume that someone else’s life is perfect and that yours is inferior by comparison. So we turn our lives into a competition, whether consciously or unconsciously, so we can be the people at the top – the ones who have bragging rights on having the most shiny, sparkly life. 

There is one big problem with that. It’s very difficult to serve others while we are in competition with them. (Also see The Power of Gratitude In Your Life.)

And by not serving others we are actually denying ourselves some of the best blessings in life. Nothing on this planet makes you feel better than helping someone else. Nothing. It warms the heart of both the giver and the receiver, and the benefits of that help sometimes reach further than just those two people. 

The benefits of helping others are many:

  1. You lift up the person you help & make them feel loved.
  2. You give yourself a boost because doing good in the world feels good.
  3. You set an example for everyone else by promoting helping others.
  4. You encourage those you help to pay it forward.
  5. Our whole society improves.

Whether it’s picking up a dropped book or roofing someone’s house, every little gesture of kindness makes this world a better place. 

I had an opportunity to help someone last week that truly blessed me. I was in a parking lot and saw an elderly man shuffling slowly in the rain with his cane. He was getting drenched and so I fell in beside him with my umbrella as I walked him in the direction of his vehicle. After just a few steps, another vehicle backed up and ran into us. No one was seriously hurt, partly because I took the brunt of the car that hit us. But what would have happened to the elderly man if I had not been between him and that car? I believe whole-heartedly that I was meant to be there to shield him, and I am thankful that I had the opportunity to be of service to him. It made me feel good to be of use in such a wonderful way, and I hope that someone would do the same for my elderly father in the same situation. 

Being of service to others is a way of giving back to them and also yourself. Plus you make this world a better place. 

Here is the best way to get into the spirit of serving others:

  1. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

It is easier to feel compassionate toward others if you don’t see them as your competition. Stop comparing your situation to theirs. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. No two lives are the same and it doesn’t matter if their life looks better than yours. The grass always looks greener on the other side, but it almost never is. 

  1. Be Thankful For Your Life

You can’t be envious of the lives of others if you are busy being grateful for your own life. And by this, I mean deep down grateful. Start each day saying or writing down all the things you are thankful for in your life. Even the smallest things are worthy of noting. Eventually, this exercise will reshape how you feel about the world  and your whole existence. 

  1. Wish the Best For Others

Now that you realize just how awesome your life is, be sure to wish the same for others. Always speak positive words and think positive thoughts toward everyone you encounter. What goes around, comes around. And that includes positivity and good will towards others. 

  1. Serve Others In Any Way You Can

Now that you have got your heart in the right place towards both yourself and others, you are free to joyfully serve others in ways you never thought possible. Tell others about what you are doing so they can get involved and receive those blessings too. 

  1. Don’t Limit Your Kindness To People You Don’t Know

Many people give to charities to help those in other countries or victims of natural disasters, but often overlook those close to them. It can sometimes be easier to give to a nameless face than to serve a person right in front of you. Remember that charity begins at home and we should help even if it feels uncomfortable at first, and always without judgement.

Kindness can be contagious! Pass it on!

 

  

 

How To Write Precise Affirmations For Success

how to write precise affirmations for success

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By now most people have been exposed to the Law of Attraction and have some idea of how that works.  However, there is a key to writing precise affirmations that will catapult your success.

Gratitude is a definite part of a successful life (see The Power of Gratitude In Your Life) along with visualization, goal setting, meditation, forgiveness, etc. However, what I want to talk about here is a specific and significant way that you write your affirmations. 

Why are affirmations important?

Our subconscious mind holds our deepest beliefs about ourselves and others, and also holds concepts that are deeply ingrained in us. Sometimes this can restrain us from achieving our goals.  Affirmations are our way of retraining our minds to eliminate bad beliefs and replace those with good ones.

If we believe we won’t succeed, then we won’t. It’s as simple as that. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” And he knew a little something about success. Attitudes and beliefs are literally the biggest influences on success.

To retrain your subconscious beliefs you want to write down statements that are positive and read those to yourself several times each day. For example, if you have social anxiety you might write “I am completely relaxed and comfortable in any social setting.” If you tell yourself that enough you will begin to believe it because your subconscious has no opinion on anything and will believe anything you tell it with enough repetition. 

But here is the caveat to that. Anyone can look at their life and write down a nice list of affirmations that will benefit their life and well-being. I did that myself several years ago. But after a long time of doing this I realized that I was not changing some core beliefs in my life. That’s when I came up with this exercise.

  1. Decide where you want more success.
  2. Determine what beliefs are keeping you from that success.
  3. Dig deep and find where those beliefs came from (an event or person).
  4. Write a specific affirmation for each.
  5. Read those affirmations several times each day.

For example, I determined that I was not reaching some of my career goals. Then I dug deep and realized I didn’t believe I could reach higher goals because of a past experience early in my career. You see, when I graduated from college years before, I was unable to get a job that I wanted where I lived. Moving somewhere else was not an option, and those jobs simply didn’t exist around me. Because of that, I took a string of jobs that I didn’t want and felt like a failure. That set the stage for me to believe that I would never truly succeed in my career. 

After I figured all of this out, it was easy to write the following affirmation: “I can get any job I want making any amount of money I want.”

Over time, this affirmation convinced my subconscious mind that it was true. It was that easy. However, it took time and dedication. This is not something that you can do once. Nor can you do it once per week. It must be done every day, several times per day until you see real results. But it is easy, free, and works every time if done correctly and consistently. 

I actually took this a step further. I downloaded a program called Mind of Winner. It allows you to choose from a list of subliminal messages or create your own, then flashes these words or phrases onto your computer screen a fraction of a second. This works in the background while you are doing other things on your computer.

You can also make a recording of your own voice reciting your affirmations or pay companies to make customized recordings for you.

The best practice is to deliver these messages to your brain as many times per day as possible, in as many ways as possible.

Happiness to all! (more…)

Don’t Let Opportunity Slip Away

Don't Let Opportunity Slip Away

Opportunity is an interesting word. Some see it as a happy thing, while others feel nothing but fear when the word is mentioned. This is because it can evoke the thought of doing something different or stepping outside our comfort zone.

We have all had opportunities come into our lives but then slip away (or go to someone else) while we stalled in our decision to act on them.  Maybe we have an incredible idea for a book, but see a similar title published the next year after we neglect the urge to write it ourselves. Or maybe we have an idea to streamline productivity at the office only to see another employ get promoted for implementing the same idea three months later because we refused to speak up.

I know my own father created several tools to help him around the house that later showed up at big box retailers after someone else had the same ideas and took the time to patent them. (We could all be rich now, Dad!)

What is it about opportunity that paralyzes us sometimes? This can differ from person to person, of course, but there are a few common causes. Some of us may suffer from all of these issues, but even one is enough to hinder us from fulfilling our potential.

Let’s look at some of them:

  1. Fear of Failure

It is fair to say this has dominated most of mankind since the beginning of time. Luckily, some individuals have managed to overcome this fear or we wouldn’t have many things we now consider necessities, such as electricity, running water, modern medicine, the Internet, etc.

I would offer here that the only thing scarier than failure is knowing that you never tried. Earl Nightingale said, ” Most people tiptoe their way through life, hoping they make it safely to death.”

I can’t think of a sadder way for us to live our lives.

2. Fear of Embarrassment

This is tied closely to fear of failure. After all, this is why failure is so bad, right? Everyone will know.

But I have noticed something about successful people. They have all had failures. Every single one of them. The difference between them and us is they never seem to care what anyone thinks or says about their failures. They are so busy moving on to the next opportunity that they seem to be completely unfazed.

Their thoughts are always on the opportunities and successes of tomorrow, not dwelling on the failures and mishaps of yesterday.

3. Fear of Success

Yes, this is definitely a thing. And I believe there are three components that frequently play into this.

  • Fear of the responsibility that comes with success
  • Fear of being disliked for being successful
  • Fear of losing success

Let’s start with the first one, fear of responsibility that comes with success. If you are the first person in your family or circle of friends to reach real levels of success, then you might fear that your loved ones will ask you for money or favors. If you spread your money around too much, then you will soon have no money yourself.

This can be easily sidestepped by planning ahead.

First of all, keep your financial information to yourself. People are less likely to ask for money if they don’t know your exact financial situation. Second, when someone asks for money, offer instead to teach them to make their own money.

Next, there’s the fear of being disliked. Guilt can also tie into this one. Being successful is a wonderful thing and you should never let other people’s jealously hold you back. Neither should you feel guilty for living up to your potential. It is not your fault if those around you chose not to live up to theirs.

Opportunities come to all of us in life. Every person must decide what to do with them.

Last, there is fear of losing success. This is more common than one might think. Which is worse: never having success OR having it and then losing it? Neither. Both are bad. So remove that fear from your thoughts now and it will never be an issue.

Success is your friend. Don’t overthink it and turn it into something stressful.

Go live your best life. (more…)

The Power of Gratitude In Your Life

the power of gratitude in your lifeThe power we have over our own lives is monumental, even though it doesn’t always feel that way.

Humans are intelligent beings with big brains that can either help or hinder us, depending on how we use them. Everything depends on our attitudes and thoughts.

One element that has been present in abundance for EVERY highly successful person I know is gratitude. Let me explain….

If you have mostly positive thoughts and attitudes, then you will have positive, happy lives. If you need evidence of that being true, just look around you at the happy people you know. People often assume that in order for a person to be happy they must first have happy circumstances in their lives. However, I am a firm believer that it often works the other way around.

When we make the decision to be happy no matter what, then good and abundant things come to us.

Why does this happen?



There are several reasons why. Here are just a few:

  1. We take the pressure off ourselves so we finally relax.
  2. Happiness leads to confidence and positivity, which draws other people to us.
  3. When people are drawn to us, they want to help us.
  4. All of this leads to us reaching our goals in life, which leads to even more happiness.

It’s all that simple. There is no magic to it.

Practice gratitude for everything in your life on a daily basis. Write down five to 10 things you are thankful for every evening before bed. Or say these things out loud in the shower each morning. Do this multiple times each day if possible. Like most other things, gratitude is a habit that can be developed over time with practice.

I have a sheet that I recommend for both individuals and couples that will help you develop the habit of feeling grateful everyday.

It was originally developed for couples who wanted to be more appreciative of each other. However, you can use it to show gratitude for anything, not just your significant other.

I recommend using this sheet daily for 30 days to begin to see a difference in your overall joy. It can be used for one month or one year. It all depends on you.

😃 Download 30 Days of Gratitude Sheet Here 😃

By using gratitude you will actively eliminate negative thoughts because there simply isn’t any room for them in your brain.

In fact, I use this as an avoidance system. Any time I begin to have a negative thought, I consciously direct my thoughts to something I am grateful for. This redirects my thoughts and feelings EVERY SINGLE TIME.

This WILL work for you. Try it!