Have you ever spent countless hours debating over a decision only to later regret it? In this book, American psychologist Barry Schwartz outlines the reasons why sometimes less is more when it comes to choices. He states that it’s counter-intuitive to believe that having unlimited choices leads to happiness; it instead can lead to regret. The points I’ve taken away are:
1. “More choice may not always mean more control. Perhaps there comes a point at which opportunities become so numerous that we feel overwhelmed. Instead of feeling in control, we feel unable to cope. Having the opportunity to choose is no blessing if we feel we do not have the wherewithal to choose wisely.“
2. “Obviously, money matters. But what these surveys also reveal is that money doesn’t matter as much as you might think. Once a society’s level of per capita wealth crosses a threshold from poverty to adequate subsistence, further increases in national wealth have almost no effect on happiness.“
3. “Adding the second option creates a conflict, forcing a trade-off between price and quality. Without a compelling reason to go one way or the other, potential consumers pass up the sale altogether. By creating the conflict, this second option makes it harder, not easier to make a choice.“
4. “Regret may threaten decisions with multiple attractive alternatives more than decisions offering only one or a more limited set of alternatives…. Ironically, then, the greater the number of appealing choices, the greater the opportunity for regret.“
5. There are several ways to stop yourself from falling into the trap of believing that more choices equates abundance.
a) Control expectations by reducing the number of options you consider.
b) Stop paying attention to how others around you are doing. This will only increase the social pressure and anxiety on you to keep up.
c) Be smart with what and where your time is spent “choosing”.
By Ryan Lee
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