From the trivial to the big ones, sometimes I just get stuck, unable to make any decision at all. Yesterday I spent 15 minutes at the skin care aisle at my local supermarket staring at a sea of choices and it was overwhelming! I had to step back, clear my head and just grab the one that appealed to me the most. And all I was looking for was a face wash!
Psychologist Barry Schwartz explains the paradox of choice and how the old dogma of maximizing choice in order to maximize freedom is actually causing us to be miserable. The vital concept of freedom is suddenly connected with anxiety and disappointment.
Too many choices produce paralysis and we end up less satisfied with the result of our choice than we would be if there were fewer options to choose from. Too many options lead to escalating of expectations, resulting in people blaming themselves and regretting anything at all that’s disappointing about the option they chose.
Opportunity costs subtract from the satisfaction we get out of what we choose even when what we choose is terrific. There more options there are to consider the more attractive features of these options are going to be reflected by as opportunity costs.
In the end, you’ll never be pleasantly surprised because your expectations have gone through the roof.
Do you ever feel that way? The overwhelming amount of information, choices and options out there just keep expanding and every little detail of life has the potential to feel like a big decision. Not everything needs to be so excruciatingly hard like that. I’m learning to lower my standards when it comes to small, relatively insignificant decisions, like what brand of toothpaste I should buy. Less is more.
Photo by Ruth Orkin