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Hand pointing at a choices illustration on blue background.
Choices are the hinges of destiny.

Edwin Markham

One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it's expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.

Eleanor Roosevelt


This week’s ‘food for thought’ will be in keeping with the theme of managing stress. If you haven’t been following the past two weeks – I’d recommend that you visit my blog and take a look at how much your attitude towards stress can affect your health.

This week we are going to see that having ‘choices’ might not be all it is cracked up to be. Thoughts of ‘choices’, seem to be synonymous with empowerment. Yet, choices could actually paralyse us and even create greater degrees of stress in our lives. Let’s understand some important psychological principles and take Key Steps to…

Make wise choices and comparisons

1. Give yourself fewer choices. It is important to understand the paradox of choice. Social psychologist Sheena Iyengar discovered that when shoppers were given 6 choices of jam, they were happy to choose one, but when she gave them 24 choices, they were less likely to buy. Having too many choices confuses and paralyses us. So, when making decisions, resolve to look for a handful of good options, and then make a decision, rather than continuing to search for even more options. Limiting your choice will support you to lessen your stress, foster peak performance and make better choices

2. Make better comparisons between options. In psychology, this is known as ‘The Contrast Effect’. Let’s look at an example:  If you could buy a book for R300 at one bookstore and for R200 at another bookstore, two blocks away, would you walk the two blocks to save R100? Most people would. But what if it was saving R100 on a R10,000 computer instead? This time, most people wouldn’t bother, because the saving is relatively small. And yet, in both cases you have an extra R100 to spend on something else.

We’re fooled by making a false comparison: we contrast the saving with the purchase price, instead of judging the saving on its own merit. This is a common trap that can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction

Resolve to avoid these false comparisons. Stop judging your success (or lack of it) by somebody else’s rules and start measuring it by what really matters to you. Make wise choices and comparison to lessen your stress and…

“be the difference that makes the difference