I moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 2005, after 23 years of living in Madras. First time living away from the safe zone of the parental home.

It was an exciting time, obviously. By that age, I couldn't wait to get out and live my life. I was given a long and liberal leash growing up, offered all the independence one could ask for. But still...

Which toothpaste to buy?!?!?

Bloomington is a small college town (about 60,000 people) and I fell in love with the place. It was everything Madras was not. It was green, there were wide open spaces, a lot less noise, a lot less people. Was literally and figuratively a breath of fresh air.

As the realities of living by oneself set in, you realise that at least once a week, you need to head out and buy groceries. My first grocery run to the supermarket was a mind-boggling experience. Size and scale of things in the US has to be experienced to be believed. Our grocery stores and our petrol bunks, two random examples vs the sheer size of them over there - holy wow!

The store is probably 30 times any supermarket I've ever entered before. The parking lot is the largest parking lot I've seen.

Time to buy toothpaste - well, here's a zillion options to choose from. Sorry, what?!?! What are all these brands, ah finally, there's the familiar "Close Up". But wait, why do they have so many types?!?!

The excitement soon became paralysis. 100 choices for milk, for eggs, for bread. A thousand options for junk. Did one have to research what to buy?

Photo by NeONBRAND / Unsplash

Obviously, not wanting to do the wrong thing, I'd research. Which is the best thing to buy? What do all those strange words that I've never seen before on a box of toothpaste mean?

I eventually ended up buying the exact one I use at home in India, because it was familiar and it was not wrong. Picking something else might be wrong - and so I made the safe choice.

Pros and cons and a laundry list of comparisons

Too much information. Too much choice. Sounds liberating but it can actually be a rather huge constraint.

I know this to be true in my field - there's just so much information about health and fitness out there. A lot of it legitimate, and a lot more of it is utter bullshit. How does a non-expert differentiate? Especially when the jargon and words used all sound so similar? And hey, that person has a 6-pack and so must be right.

BMW Museum
Photo by Alex Suprun / Unsplash

My dad has a good point about buying cars. Now, to the car fanatic, what am gonna say below is going to sound like the most ridiculous thing they've read.

All cars are pretty much the same, once you pick a budget.

The features, what you get, the size, the whatever - they will all be about the same. A bit more of this means a bit less of that. Overall, it just evens out. Because you are shopping in that segment.

You are going to pick something based on what feels right to you, and what resonates with you. All the research and decision-making (and I have friends who do lengthly Excel sheet comparisons) is for you to make peace with your decision. And to primarily shut down that other friend of yours who will immediately tell you "that one is better".

Better is relative. Better is what works for you. Better here is not black or white. And this is without even going into cars are actually about status and what statement you want to make.

How do you make a choice?

Most of us stick to a pattern. Either like me, you buy the same old toothpaste that you are familiar with. Or you do hours and hours of research and point out why you bought something.

But how do you make a real choice? When it is about something you don't know too well. When it is something rather important - like your health and fitness.

If we get confused and scared, and we go back to doing the same thing - but the same old thing does not work. If we continued doing what we have always done, we will get the same outcome. And obviously, we are looking for a new outcome.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

How do you interrupt your pattern?

Or rather, how can I help you interrupt your pattern? I am not sure facts are enough. I am not sure truth is enough.