I'm not just talking about choosing between 827 varieties of potato chips at Subway (technically 826, because fuck dill pickle and anyone who enjoys it). I mean big, life-changing decisions, like choosing a city to live in or a video game console to own. Never getting married, never having children, and marrying children are all valid options now (the last one isn't yet, but now that gay marriage is legal it's only a matter of time, right?). You can earn three degrees and change careers eight times, and no one will bat an eye. You can make peace with the dragons that have plagued your village rather than fight them like your ancestors, and your reward will be a feel-good documentary instead of banishment.
Again, this is not a bad thing. Many of the careers and relationships our ancestors were stuck with were unenviable, to put it mildly. But while we've become pretty good at making decisions, we're still struggling at living with them. You probably know at least one person who brands him- or herself as a life coach, and that person is probably insufferable. Life-coaching has only been around in earnest for a couple of decades, because, well, just try to imagine a life coach in a previous era. "Try not to get shot by communist revolutionaries during your 12-hour factory shift." "Hey, you know typhoid? Yeah, don't get it." It's not the sort of advice worth shelling out money for.
"I know you're not happy with your life right now, but have you considered toughing out
another 20 years of backbreaking serfdom?"
But, as one coach points out, his clients come to him well after making a big decision. They didn't have trouble making it, but they had trouble dealing with the consequences. A no doubt related fact is that increased choice has coincided with decreased well-being and happiness. Happiness is a complicated subject, and saying that it stems entirely from freedom of choice is like saying your headaches stem entirely from the mind-control chemicals the government sprays out of streetlights. There are many factors, but a big one is that ...