Are too many choices leading to an unsatisfying life?


“I’ll have a tall, half soy, half 2%, no foam, with one pump please.” Have you heard (or ordered) something similar at your local coffee shop? Will that “perfect” order – so detailed because we are given so many choices – make every sip all the more satisfying or disappointing?

Aziz Ansari published a piece in Time Magazine- modified from the book Modern Romance  which he co-authored with Eric Klinenberg.

“I feel compelled to do a ton of research to make sure I’m getting every option and then making the best choice. If this mentality pervades our decision­-making in so many realms, is it also affecting how we choose a romantic partner? Today’s generations are looking (exhaustively) for soul mates, whether we decide to hit the altar or not, and we have more opportunities than ever to find them. The biggest changes have been brought by the $2.4 billion online-­dating industry, which has exploded in the past few years with the arrival of dozens of mobile apps…you have a recipe for romance gone haywire.

Our society assumes that more choices make for better decisions.  Barry Schwartz, the author of “Paradox of Choice” disagrees. Check out his 2005 Ted Talk below. Schwartz believes the explosion of options leads to increased expectations which leads to increased dissatisfaction. The secret to happiness? He says it is low expectations.

The developed world rides high on offering so many choices to society; it’s supposed to be a sign of success and freedom. But, its also a sign of our excess, our gluttony, our need for more and more. Who really needs to choose from 75 salad dressings (using Schwartz’s example) when you’re at the grocery store?

In the ten years since Schwartz’s talk technology continues to add more options then we can handle. Emails, texts, Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest/WhatsApp notifications ding all day long on your phone/laptop/desktop/tablet/watch.

Increasing our awareness of these issues can lead to change if we accept that there is an issue in the first place. That choice is up to us.


Photo: Time

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