The Dizziness of Freedom

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"Gut churn is an ancient response to being hunted. Back when tigers chased our mammalian ancestors across the savannah, our body had to evolve ways to help us escape. One of its best tricks was, in times of crisis, to shut down everything that is non-essential to running...Kierkegaard talked about it this way: a man stands on the edge of a cliff and looks down at all the possibilities of his life. He reflects on all the things he could become. He knows he has to jump (i.e. make a choice). But he also knows that if he jumps, he’ll have to live within the boundaries of that one choice. So the man feels exhilaration but also an intense dread, what Kierkegaard called 'the dizziness of freedom.' So gut churn is double edged. It’s impending death but it’s also the thing we all want: profound freedom."

~ Jad Abumrad, from The Terrors & Occasional Virtues of Not Knowing What You’re Doing, Transom.org, July 26, 2012


See also: Schwartz, B. (2005, July). The paradox of choice [Video]. TED Talks. (link)