Editor’s Note: The following is a summary of Ruth Chang’s Ted Talk, How to Make Hard Choices.
Think of a hard choice you’ll make in the near future. It could be deciding between two career opportunities, what house to buy or the best way to care for an aging parent.
According to Rutgers University Philosopher Ruth Chang, what makes a choice hard is the way the alternatives relate. In an easy choice, one alternative is better than the other. With a hard choice, one alternative is better in some ways, while the other alternative is better in other ways. What makes it so difficult to decide is that neither alternative is better overall.
Here’s the good part about hard choices: When we choose between options that are on par, we have an opportunity to decide based on reasons that are created by us, not given to us. Instead of looking for external rationalization for your decision, you get to look inward. And it is through those choices that we become the people we are.