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Paradox Of Choice

December 30, 2016

We live in a world of options. Food, education, religion, women, men. Although it’s great because it gives us variety, it’s also a very bad thing. We don’t have to settle for anything anymore. Don’t like chicken? Get a salad. Don’t like salad? Get a vegetarian burger. Don’t like blondes? Date a brunette. Don’t like your job? Quit! Don’t like your husband? Find a new one! See where I’m going with this? 

Berry Shwartz, a psychologist, wrote an entire book on the paradox of choice. He calls this the official dogma of Western societies. Having too many choices is indeed a problem. It can get exhausting. Every where we look, material things to lifestyle things is a matter of choice. Think about how many choices you make in a day, in a week, in a year!

Some people are so bad at it, they would rather stay in denial and never have to choose anything. Schwartz calls this “producing paralysis instead of liberation”. What that means in simpler terms is, instead of making a decision they would rather do nothing about the matter. 

Others, will go a step further and give the responsibility to someone else. For example hiring a stylist, a designer, a match maker. “I like black, beige, white and red, here’s the budget, furnish my house, or fill up my closet”. It’s simple because you no longer have to make the decision yourself. 

Then you have people who actually go ahead and choose what they want, and they are dissatisfied with the outcome. The opportunity costs are higher. Opportunity costs subtract from the satisfaction of what we get out of what we choose, even when what we choose is a great option. It’s proven that we end up less satisfied when we make a choice, then if we had fewer options. 

This starts to get dangerous when it comes to people. You can happily be dating someone and then someone else just comes along and sweeps you off your feet. Then you wonder why you should stay in your relationship when the grass looks greener on the other side. 

Things were simpler when you didn’t have to make so many choices. You got married at the age of 18, lost your virginity to your wife/husband and spent the rest of your life with this person. You never wondered what it felt like to be with someone else because that wasn’t an option. 

The more choices you have, the higher your expectations become. If you want to be truly happy with ANY decision you make, you need to lower your expectations. You need to learn to be happy with what you have, and stop thinking that it’s better somewhere else. 

Cover Photo credit – We Heart It

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