The paradox of choice, why less is more

Another book which deserves a thumbs up, five stars or whatever you think is a good ratings system.  The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz explains why less choice is better for our lives.  I had watched this TED clip a while back, in which he explains the concept in 20 minutes but reading the book was still just as educating.

The book tells us that because of the immense number of choices and decisions we have to make in modern day life we are loosing out on more happiness.  It explains how and why this happens.

Excerpts from the book:

Many years ago, the distinguished political philosopher Isaiah Berlin made an important distinction between “negative liberty” and “positive liberty.” Negative liberty is “freedom from”—freedom from constraint, freedom from being told what to do by others. Positive liberty is “freedom to”—the availability of opportunities to be the author of your life and to make it meaningful and significant.  Often, these two kinds of liberty will go together. If the constraints people want “freedom from” are rigid enough, they won’t be able to attain “freedom to.” But these two types of liberty need not always go together.

Instead, I believe that we make the most of our freedoms by learning to make good choices about the things that matter, while at the same time unburdening ourselves from too much concern about the things that don’t.

Most good decisions will involve these steps:
1. Figure out your goal or goals.
2. Evaluate the importance of each goal.
3. Array the options.
4. Evaluate how likely each of the options is to meet your goals.
5. Pick the winning option.
6. Later use the consequences of your choice to modify
your goals, the importance you assign them, and the
way you evaluate future possibilities.

The conclusion of the book gives us 11 things we need to do with our choices.
1. Choose When to Choose
2. Be a Chooser, Not a Picker
3. Satisfice More and Maximize Less
4. Think About the Opportunity Costs of Opportunity Costs
5. Make Your Decisions Non reversible
6. Practice an “Attitude of Gratitude”
7. Regret Less
8. Anticipate Adaptation
9. Control Expectations
10. Curtail Social Comparison
11. Learn to Love Constraints

I really do recommend this book to everyone even if you just read the last concluding chapter.  Life is about our choices and we need to choose wisely without overwhelming ourselves and living in a constant state of regret.

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