On Glorifying Simplicity


It seems like there’s always someone making the argument that fewer choices are better, that too many options make people unhappy. Whether they’re talking about arranged marriages, too many TV channels, or the “simplicity” of life before the internet, what it sounds like to me is people wishing for a small life.

As someone with often paralyzing anxiety, I can understand struggling with decisions. That’s not what people are talking about when they do the thing I’m talking about.

I’m not one of those people constantly parsing the distinction between happiness, joy, and all the other synonyms, but when you’re talking about wanting fewer choices in order to be happy, I think the better word is content, or maybe even just comfortable. A happiness that relies on ignorance of other options is not, to me, happiness.

But why is everything about happiness, anyway? Who says life is about being happy? This is where religious people and I differ, but as I see it, life isn’t about anything. We don’t exist for a reason any more than crickets or butterflies or elephants do; we exist because we exist, because this planet exists and the animals on it, including humans, reproduce. The point of life is life; beyond that, on an individual basis, the point is whatever we want the point to be. If what you want out of life is to always be happy and comfortable, well, then I guess I can see why you’d need to keep your world as small as possible.

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