Choice can cause pain and anxiety 

 “I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” -Slyvia Plath in The Bell Jar

“The despair of too much possibility.” -Soren Kierkegaard

“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” -Jonathan Safran Foer in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

“…the fact that some choice is good doesn’t necessarily mean that more choice is better…there is a cost to having an overload of choice. As a culture, we are enamored of freedom, self-determination, and variety, and we are reluctant to give up any of our options. But clinging tenaciously to all choices available to us contributes to bad decisions, to anxiety and stress, and dissatisfaction—even to clinical depression.” -Barry Schwartz in The Paradox of Choice 

 

Resources

  • The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

Elizabeth Gilbert speaks on choice at the 2011 Women's Leadership Conference

http://www.ted.com Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.