Maybe I don’t read enough Psychology, but I thought this book was fantastic. Swarthmore Psychology professor Barry Schwartz’s basic thesis is that the world is divided into two types of person: maximizers, who want to find the absolute best option, and satisficers who want to find something that is good enough and not worry that something better might be out there. He also links maximizing to the high and increasing incidence of clinical depression in the developed world and believes that satisficing is the best option for coping in a world in which we are overwhelmed with choice.
“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
This is one of those books that, once you’ve read it, permanently shifts your perspective. It made me think altogether differently about the value of having MORE choices. As the author argues, your sense of well-being increases when you go from having no choices to having a few choices. But as you go from having a few choices to having many choices, your happiness typically goes down. Why? Because it’s time-consuming and stressful to choose between all those alternatives! You become fearful of making a mistake, of not making the absolute best choice. And often the more time you spend making that perfect choice, the more unhappy you are second-guessing yourself after the fact.