Here is a 20 minute talk by Schwartz (via the brilliant TED) on how the offer of too many choices is quite debilitating to us as individuals, and further that we should encourage more limited options than what we currently in order to increase our general well being and happiness. The talk is quite long, so here are the highlights:
- Too much choice paralyses, since the process of determining the best choice is both onerous (technically) and something which makes us anticipate regret ("what if I pick the wrong one?").
- Once a choice is made, the maximum potential satisfaction has been reduced since any flaw or issue arising from making that choice (something that is inevitable since nothing is perfect) will go on to convince you that you might have made the wrong choice (kind of like a realised feeling of regret).
- The offer of multiple choices leads you to have higher expectations for the choice you eventually make. So I expect tapered slim-fit jeans to fit better than the generic ones I bought before. And perhaps they do, but since they're still not perfect I feel they don't, more.
- When there was less choice, you could blame an imperfect choice on the world. Now that you have more, you can only blame yourself.
Faced with so many choices, we lose the ability to objectively see the benefit and good in the choices we made and fail to trust our decision making skills. So the secret to happiness now? Well it's basically to have low expectations (15:06), embrace a "fishbowl" and the limited options it presents to us, instead of aiming for the "anything is possible" we're often told to aim for and finally, to see settling as something that's empowering and decisive rather than compromising.
EDIT: Now embedding the YouTube video. Cheers Mash!