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The Paradox of Choice

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Why more choice doesn't make us happier

I recently rewatched and old TED Talk, "The paradox of choice" by psychologist Barry Schwartz.


For me, it was a much needed reminder that more choices don't make us happier or freer, but rather more dissatisfied and paralyzed.


While the talk doesn't offer any solutions, I think it’s important that we find our own ways and methods to not become overwhelmed by too many choices and end up in a state of decision paralysis. Or worse, regretting every decision we make (even those that were actually good ones) simply because we can't stop thinking that there might have been something better still.


I definitely struggle with decision making sometimes. Here are a few things that I try to stick to and that usually help me:

  • Set a deadline - set a specific date by which you want to have made your decision

  • Limit your time - give yourself a certain (limited) amount of time each day for research and data collection to prevent information overload

  • Limit your options - e.g. when you’re buying a car, you don’t need to go to every car dealership in your city. Pick a few and visit only those

  • Set clear criteria and prioritize them to limit your search to those options that fulfill your top priorities

Most importantly, don’t look back! In many cases, there is no such thing as “the best decision”, just the right decision in a certain situation and with the information and options available at that moment.

 

Watch the full video of Barry's interesting and entertaining talk on Ted.com



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