That’s the number of choices we make in one day.
Assuming we’re awake 16 hours in a 24-hour period, that’s an average of one decision every 1.6 seconds.
Some of those decisions are automatic, like when to scratch an itch or shift in a chair or cough (3 things I just decided to do in the last 10 seconds, without much thought, I might add.)
And some of those decisions are more deliberate, like what to eat, how to spend money, how to spend time, what to say, what to look at, what to read, what to think.
You’re making decisions now: whether to continue reading this blog post (the answer to this is yes), whether to believe what I’m saying to be true or false, whether or not to Google this statistic for yourself… It will drive you crazy if you think about it too long.
What makes this number of decisions –35,000 – so astronomically high, is the sheer number of options available to us.
Satellite channels for television…
Paint colors for walls…
Cereal varieties for breakfast…
The other day I walked in to Starbucks, and after staring at the vast number of menu options, I finally said, “I’ll just have tea.”
And the barista asked, “What size?”
Her: “Cold or hot?”
Her: “Sweet or unsweet?”
Her: “What kind of tea?”
Me (already rethinking my decision): “What are my options?”
Her (cracking open a giant box, revealing a panacea of tea flavors and colors and combos): “We have these.”
Me (confused and overwhelmed, as is often the case when ordering at Starbucks): “Which one is green tea?”
Her (pointing): “this one, this one, this one, this one…”
Me (in my head): “JUST GIVE ME A FREAKING CUP OF ICED GREEN TEA!”
Me (in my fantasy life): “I’ll have the Teavana Shaken Iced Infusion with an essence of mint, lemongrass, and a touch of verbena.”
Me (in actual, real life): “Um. This one.”
Ordering 1 cup of tea required 6 decisions.
All this daily decision-making is bad for our brains and our balance.
Achieving and maintaining balance in life requires us to make wise decisions. Yet, research shows that the more choices we are forced to make in a day, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates –a phenomenon psychologists refer to as decision fatigue.
The year is 1407 BC. The place is east of the Jordan River with the Promised Land in view.
After 40 years of rebellion and frustration in the wilderness, the Children of Israel are finally ready to inherit the land of Canaan that God promised them. Wise and full of years, Moses stands before them to give his farewell discourse—his dying words.
In a farewell discourse we say the most important things.
Moses begins by reviewing with them everything that happened since God delivered them from slavery in Egypt, how He gave them the law on Mt. Sinai, and how they had been wandering in the wilderness because of their rebellion.
Then Moses proceeds to review the Law with them, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and the Shema – Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength – a command which would later be identified by Jesus as the “the first and greatest commandment.” And then Moses reads the entire Law to the Children of Israel.
Through all this — reviewing their history and reviewing the Law — Moses is deeply concerned for Israel’s uncompromising loyalty to Yahweh, their God, so he urges them repeatedly in these speeches to love God, obey Him, and be faithful to Him.
After reviewing the Law, Moses lays out the consequences of obedience to God and also of disobedience to God.
And then he says this (remember, these are his dying words and this is the most important thing):
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.Deuteronomy 30:15-20
The year is 2019 and I’m determined to live a life of balance that reflects my highest priorities. I believe living a life that reflects my priorities is the very essence of a well-balanced life.
I know my decisions directly affect my balance. And now, I also know that I have 35,000 opportunities in a day to live a life that reflects my priorities.
And so do you.
Consider this: What if in the 35,000 choices we make in a day, we used “choose life” as a filter?
What if, given the choice to say something that makes our spouse come alive versus something that makes him feel small and disrespected, we choose life?
What if, given the choice between eating the food that makes us feel energetic and vibrant versus the food that makes us feel sluggish and bloated, we choose life?
What if, given the choice between scrolling incessantly through a social media feed that leaves us feeling depleted and less-than versus picking up a book where we get lost in a riveting story or a mind-stimulating narrative, we choose life?
What if, given the choice between saying yes to the job that makes our stomach hurt versus working on the project that makes our heart sing, we choose life?
What would happen if every 1.6 seconds every single day, we say, “I choose life here”?
How would this change our day? Our year? Our life? Our legacy?
I’m going to find out.
“Choose life” is my new balance filter. It’s how I’ve begun measuring every choice I make, big and small.
If I find myself with a choice between “life and life” then, I’ll thank God for His abundant blessing, and I’ll just pick one.
If I find myself with a choice between “death and death” then, I’ll pause and look more deeply – every choice provides at least one life-giving option. I’ll refuse to choose until I find the life.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…Moses’ Final Discourse
This is the most important thing. Will you join me?