Why having more choices is bad for you

“Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee? But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”

Albert Camus, A Happy Death

We make choices constantly. As the Camus quote above clearly demonstrates, even a person who contemplates suicide is not free of making choices.

We are forced to make decisions on a daily basis more than ever before. Just go to a supermarket, and you’re bombarded with endless varieties and choices of nearly everything.

We think more choices make us happy, but it’s not so.

The more choices we have, the more anxiety we have as we’re more unsure whether the choice we are about to make is the best choice. Once we do make the decision, the anxiety doesn’t go away either. “maybe there’s a better choice about to come up in the future?”.

Therefore we can’t even enjoy what we’ve bought.

E.g., some people spend a lot of time researching before they buy what they want to buy. They need to be absolutely sure that they get the best option that fulfills their criteria. This means endless comparisons of price and quality and other factors.

With so many options, it is almost impossible to make the best decision, as we’re not computers - we can’t possibly calculate what would be perfect for us. There are simply too many variables to take into account.

The solution is to choose the first option that satisfies your criteria. It might not be the best, but at least you’re not spending so much of your time on research, and you’re able to enjoy your newly acquired product more. You will make decisions quickly and effectively.

Check out “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz - he goes a lot deeper into the issue.


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