Picking a Pumpkin

I am very excited to read the new Dr Seuss Book What Pet Should I Get?   The premise is about the difficulties of making choices, and how too many choices can be overwhelming.  

A few years ago my family went to a pumpkin patch in the Hamptons.  It was the most beautiful fall day, and we were very excited about picking pumpkins for our home.  We became extremely frustrated by our younger daughter, who found it overwhelming and virtually impossible to make a choice of which pumpkin to pick.  She literally could not choose, running back and fourth from one to the next.  Finally we told her that she couldn't have any pumpkin if she didn't choose one as we were all getting cold, and it was time to leave. 

When we got home, I did some research on making choices, and the difficulties that can be involved with too many choices.  My daughter literally was frozen when it came to choosing a pumpkin. I wanted to know why. 

I watched a fascinating Ted Talk, in which Barry Schwartz explained the Paradox of Choice.   I highly recommend everyone watch this great explanation of why too many choices can be paralyzing and make us actually unhappy. Since our pumpkin experience with our younger daughter, I have learned that she has extreme difficulty making choices.  So instead of being frustrated with her, I help to guide her with less options.  She also is more aware that it is a character trait she has difficulties with, which helps her navigate situations where there are overwhelming amounts of choices. 

One strategy that helps is to recognize what your favorite things are and sticking to them.  For example, we were recently in Rome, where the gelaterias can be overwhelming with options.  The first time we went to the gelateria, my daughter tasted about 50 flavors, before choosing one. She fell in love with the Amarena, which is vanilla with marinated cherries...deli-sh!  So when we arrived at the next gelateria, she just said "Mom, I want my favorite Amarena..."  Good choice! Done and done...