choose life… but why would I want to do a thing like that?

supermarket by steve davidson via flickr

The other day whilst trying to ensure my lunch break was actually a break, as opposed to the eating of food whilst still working, I found this by Oliver Burkeman, which somehow I had previously missed.

Burkeman is currently bringing alot of joy to my head, as well as confusion and inspiration, through not only his pieces for the Guardian but also his recent book, The Antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking. Which as well as being brilliant is also the only entire book I have managed to complete via my Kindle.

Choice, is utterly daunting and is also directly related to most of the issues I face in life: it often feels as though there is is too much choice, particularly for those in the western world like myself. And that is often the central cause of unhappiness. Back in the day most of life lacked choice entirely, especially for women. Work choice for instance is something that is permanently on my mind. The fact I have a choice, and am constantly reminded of this. Back in the day when work wasn’t a choice, or even when the type of work wasn’t a choice, I can’t sometimes think that it made life a lot easier, particularly as much of those options are somewhat limited.

Having spent my twenties embracing the opportunity for ‘choice’ now I’ve hit my thirties where this has essentially come back to bite me and left me almost with no choice apart from what to eat, which has essentially resulted in a sense of ‘life stagnation’. Not only that it’s left me suffering almost from a sense of regret and frustration that previous options of choice have now left me in this situation; particularly when all choices were primarily viable, respected, non detrimental to my health, safety and indeed legal. More so they were supposed to allow me to grow. And essentially they did. It’s just my experiences have grown what appears to be the ‘wrong way’.

Whilst others have honed their experiences, I have broadened mine, stretched mine, and am now greatly equipped with a range of transferable international skills that mean my grand role in life is essentially data inputting for less than London’s living wage and I now earn less money and have less responsibility than I had a decade ago… all because of choice. It’s no coincidence to me that i’m no prone to panic attacks in supermarkets and that I am never able to get to checkout when attempting the online alternative.

Does choice make you happy? Is it a good thing, or is the only thing worse than never having a choice always having to choose? Would life be easier smoother if choice was limited or, in some circumstances, taken away? Whilst at some points, like now, I might veer towards the latter, the thoughts then have to turn to the fact that who would be making my choice for me if it wasn’t me because then we start heading within the deeper questions of would I prefer to live in a dictatorship or ‘free’ society? And to those that question whether I would be first in the queue given the opportunity the up sticks and move to North Korea, then the answer is obviously an affirmative no… however where this rambling is eventually leading to, isn’t really the need to have choice limited but, in my opinion, for society to reflect and indeed change in relation to the variety of choice that society now has because that is where I seem to be coming unstuck…being judged almost against the ideals of the 80’s as opposed to thirty years on.

words: irvine welsh from trainspotting

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