I just blogged about a Newsweek article that mentioned that money doesn’t buy happiness. The idea behind the “money buys happiness” theory has to do with wealth giving you more options. You can decide between vacationing in Florida or in Austria. You can buy a Mercedes or a BMW. You can eat at a steakhouse or McDonald’s. It’s up to you.
What has been found, though, is that too many options is paralyzing. When you have so many things to choose from, you don’t know which choice is the best. You stress about it and worry that you’ll make the wrong decision. When we have so many options, we feel the pressure to make the very best choice.
Honestly, I think this has greatly affected my generation. Those of us who are Americans (or Westerners in general) have been pretty blessed. We don’t really know what it’s like to suffer, and we don’t know what it’s like to not have options. Even those among us who are a bit poorer have the option to work hard, earn college scholarships, and get high-paying jobs. It’s the American dream.
Where I see the negative aspects of all of our choices is when it comes to choosing a career and a spouse. We can be anything we want to be — but what exactly should I be? Will I want to be in that career forever? What if something better comes along? When you can major in everything from hotel management to sculpture to Slavic studies, making the “right” decision can be difficult.
The same thing applies when it comes to choosing a husband or wife. We’ve been influenced by Hollywood, so we expect a perfect romance. We can travel around the world, so what if “the one” just happens to live in Asia — better not get married until I’ve traveled the world. What if I marry the wrong man, and then the right one shows up — I should just wait until I know I’ve found the perfect person.
I really believe that all of our options have made us afraid to choose. We don’t want to make the wrong decision, so we just don’t make any at all. But in my opinion (and I’m not excluding myself from this mentality), this is an attitude of fear and failure to trust the Lord.
We want to make wise decisions, but at the same time, we don’t want to avoid making a choice. God has called us to go, to work, to marry, to be fruitful, to be in community, to live. Fear of failure means that we can become stagnant — not doing anything for ourselves, for those around us or for the Lord.
So, basically, I wonder if all of our choices (which we would normally consider a good thing) might not be so great after all. What do you all think?