More choices equals happiness, right? Wrong.
People ask us all the time why we would want to ‘roll the dice’ and take away our own ability to chose. The answer is simple; to find happiness. We’ve discovered that too many choices threatens your chance at happiness.
It’s a concept that seems counter to our modern world where advertisers have tried to convince us that the more choice we have, the happier we’ll be. Turns out, that’s not quite true. Psychologists have conducted countless studies that found people were happier when they weren’t overburdened by choice. That ‘choices’ don’t feel like freedom and liberation instead it creates stress and that can paralyze to a point of agonizing indecision. Too many options can overwhelm us and make us feel like we can’t function.
Of course, we don’t want to give up all of our choices, all of our liberty, all of our options — but you might want to consider letting go of the pressure of constantly having to pick every detail or analyze every decision.
Psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote a book called The Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More over 10 years ago. In it, he says that facing an overwhelming number of choices can paralyze us and make us feel bad about ourselves. He also says that even when we do make a choice, that thoughts of the other choices (what we could have chosen) leaves us less satisfied with what we get. Man, talk about the path to unhappiness.
We say, let go of the idea that choice equals freedom and embrace a little random chance once in a while – it’s a real shortcut to happiness. We’ve certainly found that when we leave things to chance, to the roll of the dice or let our server spontaneously decided what we’ll have for dinner. Without expectation, we’re much happier with the outcome!
Check out this TED Talk from Schwartz about the Paradox of Choice.
What do you think? Does having too many choices leave you feeling overwhelmed? Have you ever felt dissatisfied with a choice because you can’t stop second guessing your decision? Are you ready to embrace a little spontaneous chance and let go of those overwhelming choices?