The Paradox of Choice

Jan 08

Have you ever thought that having too many choices is a problem?  These days most of society is wired to believe that more choices = better decisions.  That the freedom of choice leads to happier lives.

In his article How To Find Happiness In Today’s Hectic World, Eric at Barking Up the Wrong Tree, draws on a conversation with Barry Schwartz, a professor at Swarthmore College and the author of the bestseller, The Paradox of Choice.

The focus of the article and Barry’s TED talk below is that more choices can actually lead to unhappier lives.  “These days, when you come home, your work comes with you. In fact, no matter where you go, your work comes with you. You’re at a ballgame, your work is in your pocket, right? What that means is not necessarily you want to work all the time but you have to make a decision not to work. There’s no constraint. “Should I play with my kid or should I answer these emails?” That was not an issue 30 years ago. You’re home; of course you play with your kid. No decision. Now, there’s a decision to be made.”

From Barry’s work Eric points out the following three solutions for a happier life
    1. Keep an “attitude of gratitude”
    2. Be a satisficer — with maximizer friends
    3. Be a chooser, not a picker

Barry goes on to say, “The single most important piece of advice I can give is: Remember that good enough is almost always good enough. If people go through life looking for good enough results, the choice problem will take care of itself. Go through your day getting a good enough cup of coffee and a good enough toasted bagel and so on and so on and life will look much sunnier.”

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