What To Do About Choice

I recently read The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz.

As Schwartz says “we are living at the pinnacle of human possibility, awash in material abundance. As a society, we have achieved what our ancestors could , at most, only dream about, but it has come at a great price. We get what we say we want, only to discover that what we want doesn’t satisfy us to the degree what we expect.”

He teaches that there are two kinds of people, Maximizers and Satisficers. A maximizer is someone who needs to be assured that every decision they make is the very best one. But with all the possibilities out there the maximizer is never satisfied with their chooses and constantly to second guesses themselves. A satisficer is someone who can decide to settle for good enough when making a decision. They have standards and when they meet those standards they can stop thinking other possibilities. The satisficer does not get distressed by the unlimited choices that are available in today’s society.

Schwartz lists steps we can take to mitigate these sources of distress.

  1. Choose when to choose
  2. Be a choose, not a picker
  3. Satisfice more and maximize less
  4. Think about the opportunity costs of opportunity costs
  5. Make your decisions non-reversible
  6. Practice an “Attitude of Gratitude”
  7. Regret less
  8. Anticipate adaptation
  9. Control expectations
  10. Curtail social comparison
  11. Learn to love constraints

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