“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” — John W. Gardner, Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?
I learned a lot from this talk.
It’s not the importance of the choice that makes it difficult, it’s the lack of a clear-cut decision:
“What makes a choice hard is the way the alternatives relate. In any easy choice, one alternative is better than the other. In a hard choice, one alternative is better in some ways, the other alternative is better in other ways, and neither is better than the other overall.
Hard choices are hard not because of us or our ignorance; they’re hard because there is no best option.”
This explains why a shopping trip can be so tiring.
The best part of the talk was understanding the value of the choices made:
“When we choose between options that are on a par, we can do something really rather remarkable. We can put our very selves behind an option. Here’s where I stand. Here’s who I am. I am for banking. I am for chocolate donuts. This response in hard choices is a rational response, but it’s not dictated by reasons given to us. Rather, it’s supported by reasons created by us. When we create reasons for ourselves to become this kind of person rather than that, we wholeheartedly become the people that we are. You might say that we become the authors of our own lives.
So when we face hard choices, we shouldn’t beat our head against a wall trying to figure out which alternative is better. There is no best alternative.”
This makes choosing easier and something to look forward to — an opportunity to make a statement about who I am.