I’m sitting in front of my laptop, researching all the places to go and all the amazing cultures to explore. I look up fares for flights to different continents, different dates and different cities within a country. I venture through all the accommodation sites; comparing the possible hostels, hotels or Airbnb places. After days of research, you know where I end up traveling and spending the night? Nowhere.
I’m trying to decide what I want to study and what kind of profession I want to have when I graduate. I end up deciding to study psychology and try to find a job as some kind of community or social worker. I made a choice. But what do I get? Doubt. Insecurities. Dissatisfaction with my final decisions.
What’s at the base of these results of not making any choice at all or being unhappy after finally deciding to stick to one thing? The abundance of choices.
In “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less” Barry Schwartz explains why the increase of options leads to less satisfaction with our decision or may cause paralyses which results in making no choice at all. This all feels contradictory with the modern idea that freedom of choice and being able to make your own decision about what you buy, how you look, your way of life, your partner and everything else is the ultimate goal and what makes us happy. Of course, there is some truth in the idea that having choices has a positive impact. It is linked to our sense of autonomy, which is one of the basic human needs (something I explained in previous blogposts) and fundamental to our happiness.
“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder.
And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
― Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less