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Increase Joy by Removing Choices

It may sound counter intuitive and yet it’s quite amazing how this works.

To illustrate I’ll share a story I once read about parents who were frustrated about getting their child to brush their teeth. Every day was a battle and they were beside themselves with how to make life easier. The adults kept buying toothbrushes and different flavors of toothpaste hoping one would be more inspiring and they’d get traction. The child was continually more combative and difficult instead of pacified.

One day they talked to a child psychologist about the situation. After listening and asking questions to clarify and fully understand the issue the response was seemingly too simple. Remove all but two toothbrushes and one toothpaste.

The parents thought this was absurd and yet were totally game to try anything. They went home, took away all of the excess and magically they had no issues, their child brushed his teeth and life went on without the regular upset. 

Do you want the red one or the blue one? Spiderman or Batman?

Simplifying choices made life easier. The family found more joy by removing some of the static and overwhelm of life.

The exciting thing is we all have the opportunity to do it.

Think about it. Someone asks, “ What do you want to do for dinner?” The response is usually a deer in the headlights noncommittal answer because the stress of, 1) thinking of all the options and 2) narrowing it down, is overwhelming.

Jay and I have employed the 5-2-1 method. One of us asks what the other would like for dinner. We list out five options whether they’re specific restaurants or types of food. (Burgers, pizza, Indian, Chinese or Italian). The other knocks the options down to two and the asker gets to make the final decision. Both of us are happy and the decision doesn’t rest all on one person’s shoulders. 

For some reason this concept has come up a LOT in the last few weeks. In talking to family and friends more stories and insights come through and I’m realizing we all need a little awareness in this arena.

What do you want to do for income or your career? Gah!!! That’s too huge!!! So, start high level. Science, Technology, Math, Biology… List out a few wide range options. I can tell you I have no desire to work with reptiles or in computers. While I’m good with blood, needles can make me a little light headed. And “mathing” is less than a strong suit.

Narrow down the choices. Sometimes what you don’t  want to be or do can really help zero in on what you do.

Reducing choices can actually bring us more joy and peace. 

Clarity and breathing room.


And then again… Sometimes options can be amazing! Give me a small slice of both the pumpkin AND apple pies. Green Bean casserole, sweet potatoes, rolls and delicious gravy. OH!! Stuffing, absolutely! 

I think it’s time to go eat. My mouth just started watering.

How can you use this concept to make life a little simpler?

What options or choices can you narrow down in order to expand and flourish?

In what ways have you already used it in your life and just been unaware of doing so?


                                         with love,


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