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Summary: Our choices can defeat us but they do not have to cripple us

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"Attention, shoppers: Welcome to today’s marketplace, where consumers face a bewildering variety of choices. In grocery, we have 24 different bagged lettuces, 100 cheeses -- 20 of them cheddar -- plus 30 kinds of muffins, 24 flavors of coffee sold in bulk and 80 varieties of cereal in just the first 10 feet of the breakfast aisle. Looking for something to read? Visit Amazon.com to browse among tens of millions of titles."

Nothing epitomizes our superabundance of choice better than Apple’s latest incarnation of the iPod. As its ubiquitous ads boast, the device, smaller than a deck of playing cards, has a capacity of 15,000 songs, 25,000 images or 150 hours of video. In other words, it can provide a continuous soundtrack for your life, 24 hours a day for almost five weeks without repeating a tune. Or let you look at a different picture every 10 seconds for three days straight. Or watch all the episodes of "Friends" ever made, plus three whole seasons of "Frasier."

Who can use all that? Who can choose from all that?

"The assumption is that if choice is good, more choice is better. That’s not necessarily true," says Barry Schwartz, a psychologist and professor at Swarthmore College, outside Philadelphia. He has spent two decades examining and writing about the American marketplace, where freedom of choice reigns largely unquestioned.

But Schwartz’s research has found that too many choices can have profound negative consequences, up to and including clinical depression.

Choice causes decision paralysis

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By Steve Barnes, Senior writer -Albany Times Union, NY - Jan 21,2006 __________________________________________________________

Pastor I , Stephey Bilynskyj, starts his confirmation class with a jar full of beans. He asks his students to guess how many beans are in the jar, and on a big pad of paper writes down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he helps them make another list: Their favorite songs. When the lists are complete, he reveals the actual number of beans in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses, to see which estimate was closest to being right. Bilynskyj then turns to the list of favorite songs. "And which one of these is closest to being right?" he asks. The students protest that there is no "right answer"; a person’s favorite song is purely a matter of taste. Bilynskyj, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame asks, "When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?" Always, Bilynskyj says, from old as well as young, he gets the same answer: Choosing one’s faith is more like choosing a favorite song

Eleanor Roosevelt – One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is 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.

I. The Downward Steps Of Wrong Choices


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