dbobfish, you mention your grandfather and great-grandfather, and then say "Mind-boggling" - and you've inadvertently hit the centre of the issue.
Yes, our grandparents and great-grandparents had physically difficult lives (some of them, at least). My gran got up at 5 every morning, did washing for a family of 6 (including three men working in a garage) in a copper, for which she had to pump water from the tank and boil it on the stove. And so on.
Yes, our lives are physically much easier. But we have far more things tangling our minds, which is what makes modern life so difficult and often unpleasant. For instance, just a couple of decades ago, if one wanted a phone connection, one rang the (singular) phone company and they connected it. There was no need to evaluate different offers, no need to think about likely usage patterns, just one company, one call.
And they'd provide the phone, so there was no collecting information or decision-making there either. The contracts were simple: they'd provide the service, and you'd pay for what you used. Have you read a phone contract recently? If so, then you know how ghastly they are.
Sounds trivial, but that's a single example of the unnecessary complexity that's being shoved on us in the name of 'freedom of choice'. None of these ex-public utilities are offering different products, the difference is only in the pricing. So we have spurious choices and nagging things to think about. Plus all the "what if"s that come because our current society is astonishingly unstable: what if I lose my job, what if the economy collapses, what if there's another mad cow scare, what if, what if, what if. So much to worry about.
Multiply that by thousands, for the thousands of things we do each day, and you begin to see why our heads feel so full of fuzz all the time. We're being pushed and pulled by a whole lot of unnecessary issues.
I know this shows my age, but I keep thinking of that old Devo song, Freedom Of Choice. It seems as the years go by that we have a surfeit of choice about things that don't matter, and less and less choice about things that do.