I know that title is heretical, but I’m serious: is it possible that living with diabetes could make other areas of life easier?
I’m in the process of writing an article about decision-making, and one of the books I read is Barry Schwartz’s bestseller, The Paradox of Choice. In it, he argues that an overabundance of choice can actually be oppressive, and suggests that if you want to simplify your life, you need to reduce the number of choices available to you. (If you doubt his thesis, think back on the last time you stood paralyzed in the cereal aisle, unable to make a decision because there were so many options.)
Now, I recognize that very few people would choose to have diabetes. But as I read his suggestions on how to limit choices, I started to wonder whether diabetes actually does simplify things in a beneficial way. For example, one of his suggestions is to set rules or guidelines for everyday situations so that you aren’t constantly weighed down by small decisions. You could decide to always buy the same brand of tissues, for example. Or to always floss your teeth before you go to bed, no matter how tired you are.
In some ways, diabetes is automatic choice reducer. When I look at a menu, for example, I can eliminate the entire pasta section without a thought. Having a general rule of not ordering desserts in restaurants saves me the agony of deciding whether to say yes to a particularly luscious chocolate cake. I never drink soda. I know that exercise is good for my blood sugar, so I just do it, regardless of whether I’m in the mood. The result: not only am I healthier than I would be without my diabetic rules, but I save myself the mental effort of having to make these small choices all the time.
Of course, people need options to be happy, and I’d pay good money to be able to decide not to have diabetes. But considering that I don’t have that choice, maybe I should try to be grateful for the way diabetes simplifies life’s other decisions. Perhaps, somewhere in diabetes’ daily frustrations, lurks a tiny blessing in disguise.