The paradox of choice

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Does more choice actually make us happy?

We tend to assume that choice is always good and that having a choice makes us happier. I’ve read previously many articles which indicate this may not be true. That in fact too much choice is a stressor; it saps our decision making power, which is a limited resource.

Recent events have given me the opportunity to test this idea, to an extent. With the Covid-19 lockdown, many of my daily choices have been taken away from me. Which coffee shop to visit, which drink to have in the local bar, who’s party to go to, do we go out tonight or stay in. We’ve found that we have adapted, that in fact, we’re a bit happier, life is a bit simpler.

A reduction in choice is perhaps no bad thing. But the removal of choice is something completely different; especially when it relates to fundamental issues like the choice to stay inside or go out for a walk. We have taken the core idea of freedom, the ability to choose a path for our life, that we can decide what we do on a day to day basis, and somehow converted the definition of freedom into a choice of 37 different ways to cook chicken on a single restaurant menu.

We’ve missed the point, I think. We have almost unlimited choices but limited energy. We have only so many decisions within us each day. So ask yourself, ‘Am I focusing my energy on the right decisions?’ Take a load off and just let the little happen. Save your decisions for the choices that matter.

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