“What you see determines how you interpret the world, which in turn influences what you expect of the world and how you expect the story of your life to unfold.”
“The great artist Michelangelo claimed that his sculptures were already present in the stone, and all he had to do was carve away everything else.
Our understanding of identity is often similar: Beneath the many layers of shoulds and shouldn’ts that cover us, there lies a constant, single, true self that is just waiting to be discovered.”
“A person of “good character” was one who acted in accordance with the expectations of his community”
“It's easy to assume people are conforming when we witness them all choosing the same option, but when we choose that very option ourselves, we have no shortage of perfectly good reasons for why we just happen to be doing the same thing as those other people; they mindlessly conform, but we mindfully choose. This doesn't mean that we're all conformists in denial. It means that we regularly fail to recognize that others' thoughts and behaviors are just as complex and varied as our own. Rather than being alone in a crowd of sheep, we're all individuals in sheep's clothing.”
“Your choices of which clothes to wear or which soda to drink, where you live, which school to attend and what to study, and of course your profession all say something about you, and it’s your job to make sure that they are an accurate reflection of who you really are.
But who are you, really? The imperative “Just be yourself!” seems straightforward enough. (What could be easier than being who you already are?) Yet we often end up blinking in its headlights, perhaps frozen in place by the concomitant notion that we might, if we are not careful, turn into someone else. It’s difficult to move forward when each step could move us further away from the “authentic” self, and so we dither.”
“when people are given a moderate number of options (4 to 6) rather than a large number (20 to 30), they are more likely to make a choice, are more confident in their decisions, and are happier with what they choose.”
“We may appreciate and aspire to a certain level of uniqueness, but we believe it’s also important that our choices be understood”
“life has a way of poking holes in your plans, or in the plans others make for you”
“ no matter how prepared we are, though , we can still have the wind knocked out of us.”
“Your enjoyment of the chosen options will be diminished by your regret over what you had to give up. In fact, the sum total of the regret over all the “lost” options may end up being greater than your joy over your chosen options, leaving you less satisfied than you would have been if you had had less choice to begin with.”
“In a conversation with the master jazz musician and Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Wynton Marsalis, he told me, “You need to have some restrictions in jazz. Anyone can improvise with no restrictions, but that’s not jazz. Jazz always has some restrictions. Otherwise it might sound like noise.” The ability to improvise, he said, comes from fundamental knowledge, and this knowledge “limits the choices you can make and will make”
“Life is perpetually testing us not only by administering these "thousand natural shocks" but by making us choose among them. Rarely is the answer as easy and obvious as "cake." In the most challenging predicaments, perceived causality for an undesirable outcome, even if there was no clearer or better choice, can be a debilitating burden. We frequently pay a mental and emotional tax for freedom of choice.”
“When we speak of choice, what we mean is the ability to exercise control over ourselves and our environment. In order to choose, we must first perceive that control is possible.”
“Reflective processing allows us to handle highly complex choices, but it is slower and more tiring than the automatic system. It requires motivation and significant effort.”
“The ability to choose well seems to depend in no small part upon our knowing our own minds. And when we ask for more choice, we seem to be saying, “I know what I want, so however much choice you give me, I will be able to pick out the thing that I want.” We firmly believe that no matter how many alternatives we’re given, ultimately we’ll know which door we prefer to walk through. Yet, paradoxically, asking for more choice is also an admission that we don’t always know what we want, or that we are changeable enough that we cannot know what we want until we are in the moment of choosing. And it’s clear that after a certain point, the amount of time and energy directed toward choosing counteracts the benefits of the choice.”
“valuing the condition of having options over the quality of the options can sometimes lead to decisions that don’t serve us well.”
“A clear right answer and the opportunity to change the options? This is the chooser’s dream.”
“The less control people had over their work, the higher their blood pressure during work hours. Moreover, blood pressure at home was unrelated to the level of job control, indicating that the spike during work hours was specifically caused by lack of choice on the job. People with little control over their work also experienced more back pain, missed more days of work due to illness in general, and had higher rates of mental illness—the human equivalent of stereotypies, resulting in the decreased quality of life common to animals reared in captivity.”
“Keeping the bigger picture in mind allows us to reconcile the multitudes we contain, as long as we are also careful to clearly communicate to the world our broader guiding principles. To be ourselves while remaining adaptable, we must either justify a decision to change as being consistent with our identity, or we must acknowledge that our identity itself is malleable but no less authentic for it.
The challenge is to feel that although we have not always been exactly who we are now, we will nevertheless always recognize ourselves.”
“we need others to see us as we see ourselves. We want to find common ground, but not be a copycat. The need is so powerful that we may even behave in ways inconsistent with our true desires in order to avoid creating the “wrong” impression.”
“The challenges we face when it comes to identity and choice exist precisely because choosing is not only a private activity but a social one, a negotiation between many moving parts. Choice requires us to think more deeply about who we are, both within ourselves and in the eyes of others.”
“One could even argue that we have a duty to create and pass on stories about choice because once a person knows such stories, they can’t be taken away from him. He may lose his possessions, his home, his loved ones, but if he holds on to a story about choice, he retains the ability to practice choice.”
“True choice requires that a person have the ability to choose an option and not be prevented from choosing it by any external force, meaning that a system tending too far toward either extreme will limit People’s opportunities. Also, both extremes can produce additional problems in practice. Aside from the fact that a lack of “freedom to” can lead to privation, suffering, and death for those who can’t provide for themselves, it can also lead to a de facto plutocracy.
The extremely wealthy can come to wield disproportionate power, enabling them to avoid punishment for illegal practices or to change the law itself in ways that perpetuate their advantages at the cost of others, a charge often levied against the “robber baron” industrialists of the late nineteenth century.
A lack of “freedom from,” on the other hand, can encourage people to do less work than they’re capable of since they know their needs will be met, and it may stifle innovation and entrepreneurship because people receive few or no additional material benefits for exerting additional effort.
Moreover, a government must have extensive power over its people to implement such a system, and as can be seen in the actions of the majority of communist governments in the past, power corrupts.”
“we all make assumptions about the world—based on individual experience and cultural background—that affect our judgment of how that balance should look”
“Our beliefs about how much personal control people have over their lives, which are shaped in part by the level of individualism to which we have been exposed, also play an important role in our preferences for allocating choice.”
“Ask Americans “How similar are you to others?” and on average they will answer “Not very.” Ask the same question in reverse—“How similar are others to you?”—and their judgment of similarity increases noticeably.
The two answers should be exactly the same because the questions are, in essence, identical, but we manage to delude ourselves, just as we all claim to be above average or wholly unsusceptible to social influence. Time and time again, each one of us assumes that he or she stands out. What is it that makes us believe we’re more unique than everyone else?”
“our lives are shaped for better or worse, to move forward along largely unmapped terrain. to what extent can you direct your own life when you can see only so far and the weather change quicker than you can say?”
“Alexis de Tocqueville, the French thinker who keenly chronicled early American society, described the consequences of ever-increasing choice more than 170 years ago:
In America I have seen the freest and best educated of men in circumstances the happiest to be found in the world; yet it seemed to me that a cloud habitually hung on their brow, and they seemed serious and almost sad even in their pleasures…. They clutch everything but hold nothing fast, and so lose grip as they hurry after some new delight.”
“Which comes first, the customer or the designer? Do we make fashion, or does fashion make us? The more we think about the question, the more the answer slips through our fingers.”
“Unlike captive animals, people’s perceptions of control or helplessness aren’t entirely dictated by outside forces. We have the ability to create choice by altering our interpretations of the world.”
“Money talks. And throwing that money around shuts everyone else up.”
“Eden, it would be a lie if I told you I didn’t want to kiss those perfect lips again. That’s what I am fighting with at the moment, so no I do not want you to leave. I want you to stick around so you can continue to torment me.”
“Cyanide pills had been distributed among the SS officers, giving them the option of suicide, rather than a trial, if they were captured. The idea of suicide terrified Manfred. He cringed when he thought of death, and what judgment might await him if there by some chance was a God. Although he tried to put the fear of his demise out of his mind, it continually haunted him.”
“Eventually we found ourselves in the middle of an onion field. When you’re hungry and don’t know where and when your next meal is coming, you can eat almost anything. Those were the best damn onions I’ve ever eaten. At that moment they tasted as sweet as apples.”
“Swaying from side to side, bent almost double, Sora still thought he was the most beautiful sight in the world. Crash”
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