More Choices, Less Satisfaction?
PEOPLE in the United States today have “more options in more parts of life than has ever been possible before,” says an article in the magazine Scientific American. This is true when it comes to choices of goods, services, employment, and even personal relationships. Logic might suggest that greater freedom of choice leads to greater satisfaction in life. Surprisingly, however, it often makes for misery. How so?
The article noted that attitudes toward choices affect happiness. For example, some put much time and effort into making the best possible choice of merchandise by poring over labels and examining new products, and then they compare what they buy with what others buy. Other consumers aim for “good enough,” even if better selections might exist. Such individuals stop looking when they find an item that meets their needs.
Clearly, for those who always want the best, decisions become increasingly difficult as the range of options increases. Then, when they do make a selection, says Scientific American, “they are nagged by the alternatives they have not had time to investigate.” In the end, such ones “experienced less satisfaction with life and were less happy, less optimistic and more depressed.” The conclusion? “There is good reason to believe,” says the article, “that overwhelming choice at least contributes to the epidemic of unhappiness spreading through modern society.”
The authors of the study noted, however, that choice-related stress can be reduced. How?
● We can decide to restrict our options when the decision is not crucial. For example, make a rule to visit no more than two stores when shopping for clothing.
● Settle for a choice that meets your core requirements rather than searching for the elusive ‘best.’ Then stop thinking about it.
● Consciously limit how much you ponder the seemingly attractive features of options you reject. Teach yourself to focus on the positive parts of the selection you make.
● “Don’t expect too much, and you won’t be disappointed” is a cliché. But that advice is sensible if you want to be more satisfied with life.
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Source: Scientific American