The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less is a 2004 book by American psychologist Barry Schwartz provides food for thought this Easter Sunday.
This book tackles one of the great mysteries of modern life: Why is it that societies of great abundance, where individuals are offered more freedom and choice (personal, professional, material) than ever before, are now witnessing a near-epidemic of depression?
Conventional wisdom tells us that greater choice is for the greater good.
- Choice improves the quality of our lives
- Choice is fundamental to our well being
- Choice is essential to our autonomy
Schwartz argues the opposite, that the abundance of choice in today’s western world is actually making us miserable. He argues, infinite choice is paralyzing and exhausting, that it leads us to
- set unreasonably high expectations
- question our choices before we even make them and
- blame our failures entirely on ourselves.
So how do we manage the problem of excessive choice?
We must decide which choices in our lives really matter and focus our time and energy there.
Concrete ideas to address the problem – definitely food for thought.