To feel more empowered: Simplify


by Monda

One of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read is Barry Schwartz's "The Paradox of Choice". The impact I felt was reinforced through attending Dr. Schwartz's talks, hearing him at various settings (on TED for example, linked below) and reading his articles and interviews.

In a nutshell: We are no longer Empowered by the myriad of choices offered to us through the competitive global economy,... For the sake of Sanity, we need to check into what Truly Matters to us, Lower our expectations, and be able to Think and differentiate between what society/the Official Dogma throws at us vs what those choices do for us.

This is what the man has to say, check it out:


For years I have been diligently providing myself lists and bits that relate to my Needs, Wants, Cravings and Such. This method has helped me, to question the Realities of my life, Learn from my Perceptions of those "realities" and Make revisions about the importance of things in my life. We all do that, in our own ways, I can imagine. However, my path has been consistently towards Simplification. In physical terms as well as cognitive emotional realms.

What I truly do not Need in my core; the items whose patterns I have confirmed - I put aside. I don't lose them. I simply acknowledge them for what they Once were. My way of checking the value of those 'things" is most often linked to the "Intensions" in those involvements. Very Zen, very simple. However, in order to accomplish this simplification, I find, much genuine introspection is required to practice of the knowledge. Someone once said: Honest communication of thoughts and feelings with loved ones takes Guts. I add to it: Being Honest with oneself takes massive Balls. Checking Intensions (Karma) is one way to go about it properly. You may have other suggestions. Please share.

A friend asked me to help her decide what to take on a long trip overseas. She was already decided on taking the most important items in one suitcase. I stayed with her while she did just that. Not only I was there out of my care and respect for her quest; but also to be better in touch with the simplification process, in progress. It was/has been a profound experience, on many levels.

Also, let me know what The Paradox of Choice, evokes in you. Past the dilemma supermarket choices bring. I take that back - Any honest dilemma is worth discussing and learning from. Cereals, gadgets, partners,... share if you like.






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more from Monda

Love is out there and Not for sale!

by Monda on

I agree with Princess and Vildemose. I believe you are looking through two different lenses. One is lens of hope (which is a constant in me too) and the other is the reality of un-mitigated trauma.

Having worked in trauma, even those who have been victim of severe abuse (neglect included) - will at some point of their lives learn to love themselves and others.

Once denial, guilt and shame are worked with, True loving is possible. Without anyone getting hurt.  


your world view is admirable

by vildemose on

 and ultimately, you might be right...

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
Joseph Campbell


I am not trying to "get at anything"

by Princess on

Please don't blow this out of proportion. I simply said, "some food for thought", and I meant just that.

As I said, there might be some people who are never loved, but in my opinion (which apparently is different from yours) they are very few when compared to the whole picture.



They are two different

by vildemose on

They are two different things.

Some food for thought, anyway.

I don't understand what you're trying to get at, really. Do you really think children who are shoved from one foster home to another are "loved"? If that was the case, there would have been a lot less hatred, violence, war, greed, etc....Indeed, We have to agree to disagree.


Well then

by Princess on

we'll just have to agree to disagree, Vildemose. I think all in all pretty much everybody in this world is loved by someone. There might be some exceptions to this, but they are VERY few. I also would differentiate between being loved and feeling loved. They are two different things.

Some food for thought, anyway.


Princess: I don't believe

by vildemose on

Princess: I don't believe everyone feels loved or everyone is able to receive or give love?

Do abused children feel loved? Do we all feel loved by our children, sisters, brothers, friends, enemies, co-workers, parents, spouses?

hamsade ghadimi

great blog monda.  after

by hamsade ghadimi on

great blog monda.  after watching the first minute of the clip, i thought this guy is full of crap.  little i knew that he set out to refute all the fallacies in the first minute.  he seems to draw many points from economists especializing in economics of information (and too much information).  as it turns out, people have to gain from increasing number of options up to a certain point.  after that there is diminishing returns to increase in number of choices.  this has been demonstrated by empirical evidence in economics literature.

i always thought why homeless people (especially the very old) who have cut off from their families and live a lowly existence not just kill themselves?  why does the condemned prisoner fights his execution to instead live a dangerous and meaningless life in a cell for the rest of his life?  as ralph waldo emerson wrote: "there are people who have nothing to live for but the will to live." (that was a paraphrase) this phenomenon is explained by the 'fish bowl theory.'  also the phenomenon of those who have infinite resources at their disposal but end up taking their lives (e.g. shazdeh alireza) is explained by this theory.


Interesting, Vildemose

by Princess on

Is there anybody in this world who is not loved? We might not always know it, but I am sure everybody is loved by someone, even the most horrible people are loved by someone, wouldn't you say?



Thank you people!

by Monda on

Loving your comments, now I choose to go to my belly-dancing class :o)

Cheers to all of you who liked the topic of my blog... Let's continue our sharing and learning from one another. 


Read a  little book called,

by vildemose on

Read a  little book called, " The Tao of Warren Buffett" expecting that I will get a bits of advise on business and investment strategies. After all, Warren Buffett is the second richest man in the world. I was surprised to read his advise on Love and relationships. Here is what he said about Love and his idea of what it means to be successful:

"Wouldn't it be great if we could buy love for $1 million. But the only way to be loved is to be lovable. You always get back more than you give away. if you don't give any, you won't get any. There's nobody I know who commands the love of others who doesn't fell like a success. And I can't imagine people who aren't
loved feel very successful."


Let us rise up and be

by vildemose on

Let us rise up and be thankful,  for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little,  and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick,  and if we got sick, at least we didn't die;  so, let us all be thankful.

ebi amirhosseini

Dear Monda & commentators

by ebi amirhosseini on

 I am learning a lot from this blog & your comments,please keep them coming.

Sepaas e bikaraan. 

Ebi aka Haaji


Thank you, both!

by Princess on

Monda jaan,

So basically what you are saying is, identifying our true needs requires a level of self-knowledge that can come from our silent and peaceful centers. Making the connection to that center is the unlearning process. So when it comes to making decision all we need to do is to sit with it, then we will know what is right to do.


Divaneh Aziz,

Thanks for clarifying. Sorry I misunderstood your point. Yes, in essence we are saying the same thing.  I like how you put it: "... We first need to have our inner self satisfied and perhaps revisit our value system." Thank you agha!



Dear Princess

by divaneh on

I did not condemn wanting something different in my comment. I have not argued that people should lower their expectations either. I am in fact pro choice and think we will be reaching a stage that each individual would customise a product to his/her exact requirements. An interesting case would be shoes where we currently have to fit into one of the set standards.

My argument in wanting more than needed may be based on my own experiences. For example I used to go to every clothes shop before I bought a shirt because I did not want to miss the chance of having the best. Now I buy the first one that I like and don't care if there is a better one in another shop. Time is precious. In many cases people's contentment depends on how they measure themselves up against others, and this often material comparison is one reason that they wish to have more than what they need. In fact I am confirming your view that we first need to have our inner self satisfied and perhaps revisit our value system.


Princess jan, I have an idea if I may

by Monda on

The process of Simplification starts off as a tedious journey until it "feels right" in one's core to be applied to each decision making. Then it can become comfortably automatic. In behavioral terms it is rather tricky to describe, since we all behave differently under different circumstances. Sometimes all others observe is my silence, while in my head I am calmly checking off my needs and excesses, in that moment. It is not disrespectful either. If someone finds it confusing in the moment, depending on my quality of relationship with that person, i will happily explain my process as well as they can hear it. This technique I find can open space for more honesty in relationships. As it can be as engaging as the other person needs it to be. Leaving it to them/respecting their freedom of wanting to know.

Also, I believe that if we feel our expectations need be re-evaluated, we can re-adjust/adapt. As you know, Un-learning is a process. Just look at how many decades it took to reinforce what we learned long time ago. :o) Un-learning of precious adaptations/defenses, Can be bittersweet, but certainly worthwhile. To me the gist of Divaneh's comment underscored this piece: With evaluation of our Real Needs (introspection), acceptance of what needs to be changed follows and then the beginning of Change happens.. Until we are at peace with who we are and with what we truly need.  


Why more is less...

by vildemose on

The Paradox of Choice is an excellent book with a lot of interesting information about the habits people have in making decisions. It also has very useful tips on how to reduce anixety. We do have too many choices which sometimes cause paralysis instead of propelling us into action.



Dirty Angel

It's my chosen box

by Dirty Angel on

They gave it  to me you know and

I'm so grateful they allow me to pay for my box
on a daily basis

My box comes out of their big box and they let me choose my own box

Out of my own list!

It's a lovely conformist cage,

I even chose management of  its boundaries of life-style colours

My lovely chosen  cage comes with a rattle-proof
control panel-

they empower me about it when I talk about my feelings, bond my boundaries and sometimes even hold hands!


My lovely , meaningful cage

It's the centre of the universe

Even the sun knows that.

She knows it since that day I told her to stop rotating around my individually chosen simple, empowering bumpersticker

And now she only knocks on  my cage

when I feel like she's on my list.

I feel such empathy for her .

I  feel and relate to my deep pain for Einstein too

Had he  been more lucky and known about the wonders of my lovely cage
of choice, he would have made things so much simpler and his life so
much more self-actualizing according to his needs.

The power that he missed out on.

Oh, the power!


"Stuff happens and some, one way or another, get stuffed"


Btw Ari, the concept of choice is a fundamentally multi-faceted one, and you hit on two of the aspects of "availability" and "predictability". 

But I should kick myself for bothering to read this blog and bothering to write a post.But I shan't kick myself. I choose not to! Pfffttt!



Hold on a sec!

by Princess on

Divaneh jaan, 

I doubt many people would argue with you that contentment is key to happiness, but as Monda has pointed out elsewhere,"the trick would be to feel genuinely satisfied with our lowered expectations of Self, then Others."

Once you have developed high expectations, how do you lower them and feel genuinely satisfied? How do you become content without feeling like you are settling?

I also disagree with you that not being content means we want more, sometimes its about wanting something else? Am I making sense? 


Adapting to simple rules of survival

by Monda on

I love Ari's point, very sensible indeed. Thanks for the explanation Ari. I guess I can sit here and simplify my life to the very nitty gritty of the relationships that matter to me at this point in my life. With age comes wisdom/adaptation to our past experiences. Needs and change in life go hand in hand.

Oh Man! That was good Ari! What else were you wiling to discover in her? :o))

Divaneh aziz, First of all I apologize for deleting that blog about simple wishes, which one of yours was on there? Khelting, zip-lining or hula-hooping? I'd love to find out! Do tell! Honestly, that day I didn't feel that this was the right forum to share about my monthly wishes in terms of novel experiences... My mistake (?), again I'm sorry for that deletion.

Divaneh, you said it my friend: It is not the multiplicity of the choices but our attitude of always wanting to have more than what we need that bring us anxiety. We would be having time for a lot of other things that life offers if we were more contempt.

Hence: Simplify is my word for the 2011 and beyond :o) 

Thanks all for your comments. 




Customisation is the name of the game

by divaneh on

Manufacturing has come a long way from the days of any car as long as it is black. The whole focus is on customisation and small batches with optimum goal being the batch of 1 (Car production is a good example of discrete manufacturing). Of course production needs to make economic sense and small batches traditionally were not economic. We will have only more choices in the future and that should only be celebrated that one day you can order exactly what your mother saw for you (or something very different in my case). However no one ever asked you to examine all the choices in the shop. Just get in and get what you want. As Faramarz said Time is one precious commodity that should not be wasted.

It is not the multiplicity of the choices but our attitude of always wanting to have more than what we need that bring us anxiety. We would be having time for a lot of other things that life offers if we were more content.

I also liked Ari's point about the changing nature of our choices. 

Thanks for sharing Monda Jaan, and what happened to your last blog about wishes. It was disappeared and took one of my wishes with it. Thanks god I didn't put all my wishes there.

Anahid Hojjati

Interesting blog Monda and good point Ari regarding choices

by Anahid Hojjati on

Ari jan, you have a good point about being able to handle many choices as long as they don't change on us. I add to this the fact that it depends on nature of change too, and how we evaluate the change. For instance, if our boss changes but new one is good (in our opinion) too and our work life is not changed for worse, we are able to handle this change of boss.

I think there is a point to simplification. But it has to be balanced with richness of life too. We don't want to simplify so much that we are denying ourselves from wealth of resources and experiences out there, as long as we have bandwidth for them.

Ari jan, very funny where you wrote:" I was quicly growing to like a gal and thought fondly of her terrible cooking. Until one day she told me she was proud of the fact that she did not know how to cook. "What else are you proud of not knowing how to do?"  Hilarious.


Interesting point, Ari.

by Princess on

Come to think of it, I agree with what you are saying. In other words, if are given proportionally enough time to know and get used to the number of choices we are confronted with, then making the decision is not paralyzing or intimidating.

Acute observation!


Ari Siletz


by Ari Siletz on

As far as relationships or any other kind of choice goes, I believe we can handle a lot of choice as long as the menu doesn't keep changing on us as we're trying to order. I remember my daughters' in college and their dilemma with romances. The stress wasn't that there were a lot of guys to choose from, it was that whoever they chose would likely have to be abandoned when they each went their separate ways to grad school. Sure there's a paradox, but the core of it does not appear to me to be the multiplicity of choices, but the multiplicity of changes. We could learn to survive in a jungle with 100 dangerous creatures that could be observed and understood over time, but we could not survive in a jungle with 10 dangers that were randomly different from day to day.                                                           By the way, as an aside, here's a domesticity anectode.  I was quicly growing to like a gal and thought fondly of her terrible cooking. Until one day she told me she was proud of the fact that she did not know how to cook. "What else are you proud of not knowing how to do?" I asked stupidly. Downhill from there!    


Your rebuttal sounds like an extension of the Paradox

by Monda on

Here are some of my thoughts about the quality of the "magic" numbers. 

Time and love was what your mom and mine invested in making those few but nice items. Where has the time to show our loved ones, real care gone? Economy adapted to the time factor when our moms (at least mine) got busy with other projects rather than stay with buying daily groceries, cooking good food and sewing functional clothes for their children. Ok let's blame on the women's rights, we can go that route if we wanted to. But to me the choice of many women still remained to come home from work and make time for cooking healthy dishes (based on their knowledge about the qualities and quantities) and sew on their weekends or time off, the clothes that their kids needed. So, in my mind, women/men all got caught in the illusion of time. Quality of time spent changed, along with the number of choices that the market offered. And let's not forget the role of advertising and commercial messages. Women started feeling stupid about cooking and cleaning, as long as there were sooo many other choices. Let's not forget the message by mass media, the cultural dogma which Schwartz brings up.

As far as fruits in a jungle: I think varieties exist and adapt based on natural consumption of the species. Along with climate changes (needs of consumers) and the work pattern of the people who eat those products.

I feel confused about the human relationship piece in your comment. Could you elaborate?

As far as I see relationships, simple choices still matter. No matter how many jobs we change, how many partners we connect with, the certain quality of the connections - remains our choice. We put up or prefer to move on/adapt to what makes life easier/simpler/more in tune with our nature/presence/needs and logic. 

Am I making sense Ari? 

Ari Siletz

Kitchen vs. Restaurant

by Ari Siletz on

Good, thoughtful lecture.

Here's a rebuttal. 

 Actually our own kitchen offers much more choice than any restaruant, even if it had a thousand items on the menu. Mom used to pick her own material and sew us clothes that were a perfect fit for us and no one else. Some important causes of variety, such as large restaurant menus and the multiplicity of fashionware on the shop racks happened because previous to the mass production culture discretizing us into consumer groups, our choices were infinite. And a very large number is the best approximation to the "infinite" our intuition demands.

This leaves items like cars, cellphones, computers etc. which we can't reasonably make in our own "kitchen."  Here the problem is not so much choice, but the fact that these choices continute to vary. For example, humans would not be distressed to live in a region where a hundred different kinds of fruit grow. But these fruits stay the same year after year. Similarly there is nothing stressful about having so many species of animals in the world. But they stay the same animals.

So the source of stess is not in the number of modern choices, but in their random nature, making our environment impossible to adapt to. Schwartz's "magic" number of choices is not in the number per se but in the characteristic of that number staying more or less fixed so that we don't constantly strain to readjust to new objects in our reality.

The argument can be extended to human relationships, where having a huge extended family is wonderful, but never knowing who your boss, neighbor, postman, baker... is going to be tomorrow...




Amaan az Vicious Cycles!

by Monda on

You are right Princess! Vicious cycles do creep on us from every direction!

How about the Paradox of Choice right there? Can we choose to balance technology with Real time events? 



by Princess on

"Computer technology is working towards the goal of maximizing Time, in making humans live longer, work less for higher productivity, etc..."

I wish that was the case! Although they have certainly sold it to us with that argument, we all know that's very far from the truth. The further such "time saving" technology is developed the harder we are expected to work. It is a vicious cycle. 



Dear comrade,

by Monda on

That red pad was a question for me too. I found out that it prevented the noise Schwartz's sneakers made during the talk. It was the sound tech guy's idea :o)

Oy... what I disposed of my income over my teenagers' Needs for electronic gadgets! I can feel all parents in that realm.

Thank you for your comments. 




Ostaad Jaan,

by Monda on

خوشحالم که قابل قبول شما بود.

As you once said, roozgaar is the best teacher. 


Limited means VS multiple choices

by comrade on

I'm just wondering if the speaker in the video was happy with the red cushy pad on the floor or he wished for a better one, simply because he could've afforded it.

A tiny note on the electronics market: It has gone berserk for the amount of disposable income available to teenagers which has steadily increased since mid 60's.

I like the spirit of your blog which is about the matter of happiness!

Never increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.