In our quest to maximize freedom, we maximize choice, but is this maximization of choice leading to maximization of happiness?
In his TedTalk, Psychologist Barry Swartz helps me understand why I hate large restaurant menus. He articulates nicely, ideas that strongly suggest maximizing choice does not maximize our happiness; rather it is in fact reducing our happiness! I don’t think there is anything more important to ponder than things that directly affect our collective (he mentions the possibility of Pareto Inefficient economies) and individual happiness, and I highly recommend watching the entire 19 minute TedTalk (below); but some of the major takeaways are below.
The cost of choices includes:
- paralysis, the resulting procrastination, and the resulting consequences of not taking action create huge costs for individuals
- the opportunity costs of not choosing another available choice, subtracts from the satisfaction of making the choice that I made
- with so many choices, we expect one of those choices to be a perfect fit; and high expectations that prevent us from being presently surprised and “The key to happiness is low expectations!”
- “Everything was better back when things were worse”
- “…pretty confident we have long since passed the point [number of choices] where choices are adding to our welfare”