The Paradox of Choice: Why having too many choices is detrimental to happinessPosted on Feb 25, 2013 in Blog, Psychology, Self Care | 4 comments
Most people think having more choices is desirable.
But did you know that having too many choices is actually detrimental to happiness?
After people make a choice (buying a car, choosing a mate, picking a paint color, deciding which college to attend, etc.) those people who had more to choose from are less satisfied and experience more regret.
Expanding on this topic . . .
There are two kinds of people:
Maximizers – always researching the best choice
Satisficers – once they find something that’s good enough they are satisfied
What’s interesting is that Maximizers usually do make the best choice. They find the best deal, the right college, and the perfect paint color because they sacrificed their time, energy, and means to do the research. But incredibly they are less satisfied.
Because they are fatigued, burned out, because they believe there was always something better they could have chosen.
Regret is very high for Maximizers.
Case in point: My daughter, and I, and a few friends and family members, went to look at wedding dresses this weekend. We went to one store and looked at seven dresses. We found one we loved.
The highly experienced wedding specialist cautioned about trying on many more. She said she meets bridezillas who simply cannot make a choice. When she asks them how many stores they’ve been to and how many dresses they’ve tried on, they will tell her a number in the dozens.
The reason they can’t make a choice or be happy with what they pick is because they are maximizers and they are overwhelmed.
Sonya Lyubomirsky in her book The Myths of Happiness gives five tips for minimizing our maximizing tendencies:
- Keep a time diary. Realize time is money and that the time you spend on research actually steals time you could be doing what you love.
- Bank on experts. They’ve already spent time doing the research. Read Consumer Reports, blogs, and movie reviews.
- Stop comparing. There will always be someone prettier, richer, and more successful.
- Remember that perfection is overrated.
- Count your blessings
Have you ever experienced the pain of too many choices?
How did you finally make a decision? Were you happy with it?
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty professor at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."