The Choice of Choosing a Valentine’s Day Gift

The Choice of Choosing a Valentine’s Day Gift

It is February 14th 2012.Valentine’s Day has arrived.   With or without choice, as humans our minds and vision are being wired by the commercials aired on TV, magazines and internet advertisements all meant to get us into the mood to buy gifts as an expression and celebration of love. Yet for many it triggers stress. The task of choosing gifts from a never ending list of valentine gift choices, choosing a valentine’s day date plan , choosing what to wear, choosing who to be with or choosing to be alone, choosing choices from a narrowed list of choices and the task ultimately becomes a choice made resulting in the agony of stress. With a day in tribute to love we all expect that the choices we make will deliver the hope we set our choices to make. That being said we hope anything we do or choose to do should be because we love which can be simply translated as “I love therefore I am”.
I just finished reading” The Art of Choosing”

The Art of Choosing
The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar

a very interesting book written by Sheena Iyengar.
It really is a fascinating book and I recommend it as a “choice ” for your “must read” list of books or as a Valentine’s gift to yourself. In the long run you will get your money’s worth well beyond Valentine’s Day because it will make you think that in life you are an active player in the world of choices and what you do does matter. The author’s approach to schematically draw from  research studies in psychology is colorfully relayed with interesting findings in an appealing and engaging fashion . Although the book has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day it does present an explorative anatomy into the art of choosing and I thought to myself how might one apply some of the interesting findings to help one in choosing choices for Valentine Day.

If you Google “Valentine’s day gift choices” you will get an array of product choices from jewellery, flowers, clothes , makeup, dining, travel and many more choice options. Love becomes a commodity. On Valentine’s Day there seems to be a manipulated demand in the market for love with two assumptions, one that you choose to be a consumer in the market for love and that your supply for this commodity is low. So to increase your supply of love you are programmed to monetarily choose to  buy some product which will in turn display your love .
We seem to be transformed into a collective robotic group leaning away from individualism but conforming to get the day over with, doing it out of custom and learned duty or convention rather than a firm choice of conviction or desire from the heart.
Are we making these choices with our own hearts or are these choices an illusion of choices which are already made for us and we follow by picking from choices already pre made for us.? Are we loosing our individual creative spontaneous acts of kindness and love and instead conforming to gift giving as a display because that is what is expected from us to do as the chosen behaviour? How can we feel content with the choices we make?

In the book, The Art of Choosing , Sheena Iyengar suggests that with the multitude of consumer products thrust upon us, there is only an “illusion of variety”. We think we have choices but these choices are already made for us and guised as different products under numerous umbrellas of parent companies. We have identities and like to feel unique and  “rather than being alone in a crowd of sheep we’re all individuals in sheep’s clothing”. In order to get into a state of equilibrium we need to connect with our identity and the choices we make. To mindfully choose we need to understand our own identities and know who we are. Iyengar goes on to stipulate that once you know who you are, your choices flow as creations of you. The more control you “perceive” you have in making your choices the happier and healthier you will feel  with this “learned optimism”. As we age and get more mature and find our own identity, this trained choosing will become more fluid, consistent and flexible and we will not merely “be “in” the results of our choice” but  choice  can be a “liberating act of creation”.

What can we draw from  Iyengar’s implications as we apply it to those who may be alone on Valentine’s Day seeking to find love.? First of all, before you choose to give love you must first know more about your own identity. If you only perceive the negative experiences in your life and feel victimized by life’s uncontrollable forces, the risk for depression and unhealthy states are higher. Iyengar states that ” learned optimism ” adjusts to “our vision to see that we have control rather than passively suffering the shocks of life” We have to have the perception of control in the choices we make and then we are happier living with these choices. I would think then that when a single person decides if he or she wants to settle or find someone to settle with, or settle at all,  they would be more successful by the  “perceived ” control over their decision making process. Also once they mature to take the time to reflect upon their own personal identity and know what they are about, this in turn will give them the power and control to create a choice in their lives.
The book also draws through research findings the existing similarities between emotions like “love” and “fear”. Our systems have an automatic as well as a reflective system. Iyengar explains that the automatic system registers physiological responses without always being able to figure out what’s causing them. Although we would think that the emotions of fear and love to be completely different emotions, Iyengar illustrates that when we fall in love at first sight, the bodily responses like the heart beating faster, the sweating palms and butterflies fluttering in the stomach are all in common with emotions like the fear of falling.
With age and time, we refine our reflective system so that there is a balance between the automatic and reflective in us, thus making fewer adjustments as to  how we see ourselves  and how others around view us, and the choices we make.

When choosing Valentine Day gifts or making important choices like getting engaged or remaining to be single on this day, one needs to have a vision beyond what we see with our eyes. We need to filter the availability of information and data being processed in our brain, to filter it through our automatic and reflective responses and then come up with a choice which displays the essence of us. When we give love we are choosing to give love, when we give a gift we are choosing to give a gift, all being a reflection of our identity.  The best results from these choices come when we know who we are and perceive to be in control of these trained choices. In terms of Valentine’s day, we forget to realize that the choices we have to express ourselves on this day are free. These assets are love and time. In the grand mechanism of things which directs our choices we have the choice to give love to others and to ourselves by making the time.

Love is timeless. Time makes each of us mortal. Today on Valentine’s Day I enjoy and remember Whitney Houston, the prolific singer who tragically passed away just three days ago. Her song ” I will always love you” haunts me today on Valentine’s Day more so now after her sudden death.


I believe she was on a journey trying to know herself but fell short in time due to a lack of “perceived” control she had on her choices in life. I am thankful to Sheena Iyengar, the author of the book “The Art of Choosing” in sharing her vision. Although Sheena Iyengar is blind, her vision sheds light in the way you will see your choices.

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