The Paradox of Choice

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The term paradox of choice stems from a study by Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper in which shoppers at a supermarket given more choices purchased less than those given fewer choices.  Psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote a book called The Paradox of Choice: Why Less Is More that expands on the thought that the greater our choices, the more limiting they become.

Have you ever had that moment in a store where you just stand and look down the aisle of 40 soaps and walk out because you can’t decide?  Or you open your closet and look at all the shirts in there, but feel like you have nothing to wear?  That is the paradox of choice. At a certain point, our brain reaches overload  and it becomes impossible to make a decision.  Decision fatigue is rampant in our 24/7 society and while we may not be able to control things outside our home, inside it can be a refuge of calm and simplicity.

What can you do to help alleviate this fatigue?  Begin by paring down at home.  Instead of 10 white t-shirts, cut back to 5 (or 2!!).  Instead of 15 types of macaroni and cheese in your cupboard, eat through your supply, then replace it on shopping day with just one or two boxes.  These uncertain economic times trigger an intense survival response in people that can cause hoarding type behaviors.  The honest truth is that, while it’s good to be prepared with an emergency kit, chances are, we won’t need our stockpile and having too much stuff will cause us more psychological harm than good.  In such uncertain times, having an oasis at home to relax and rejuvenate becomes even more important for our mental well being.  

Here’s to simplicity.