My last post about owning my choices generated some comments that have really got me thinking.
We live in a culture that celebrates having as many choices as possible. I've blogged about the book by Barry Schwartz, the Paradox of Choice, which posits that we are obsessed with the desire for maximum choice in modern culture. We see choice as a means to freedom and self determination, and of course, in many ways it is. But he also talks about the downside of too much choice: a perpetual lack of satisfaction in what you have, as well as confusion and disorientation in trying to navigate all the choices presented. Our world is innundated with choice about cellphone plans and medical insurance levels and investment strategies and what shows to Tivo and iTunes to download and the like. All good things unto themselves, but taken as a compounding world to navigate, it can get a bit overwhelming. All this growth of options and opportunity means "that decisions require more effort. It makes mistakes more likely. It makes the psychological consequences of mistakes more severe." His basic thesis that sometime so much choice can simply be too much.
And it's in this world, this modern world of maximum choice, that we live as diabetics. On top of all the noise from the modern world, we have all the choices that diabetes offers up for us to deal with too, like another layer of the paradox of choice:
• This handful of almonds will have an affect on my night of rest.
• That run I'm making to catch a flight will mean I better have some backup juice on me, assuming I can carry food on board with me.
• That skipped meal will mean I go low on my drive home.
Each scenario has elements of the kind of choices we face, countless times a day. Do I eat the almonds or not? Do I run for the plane or not? Do I risk carrying the juice or not? Do I stop what I'm doing and eat now?
And don't get me wrong, I want choice and am willing to own the ones I make. But wow, when I look at all the choices we face as diabetics, living in a world that's awash with choice, it's no wonder I feel tired or grumpy or overwhelmed sometimes. No wonder it feels like I carry an extra burden.
Hm. So having said that, I wonder what can be done about this state of affairs? Well, like everything else, I do have a choice. To start, I'm going to try to notice this a little more. I'm going to try to celebrate how many choices I make every day, around my health and care and diabetes. And I'm also going to try to cut myself a little more slack when my attention slips from every choice I need to make. I'm going to feel better about the places that I have simplified my choices like with food and exercise. I'm going to continue to own my choices and like Kerri said in her comment, I'm going to feel pride for doing just that.