In defense of the simple life -

In defense of the simple life

Why too many choices may cause more harm than good


Variety is the spice of life, but is there such a thing as too much choice? According to a recent study (slated for publication), the endless array of options for everything from diet to schools to careers can paralyze us with indecision. And once we finally make a choice we often regret our decision, wondering if, given all the other possibilities, it was truly the best one. To make matters worse, this navel-gazing can lead to selfishness, as we become obsessed with ourselves, and what our decisions say about who we are. As the study’s author, Hazel Rose Markus, a psychology professor at Stanford University, explains: “The enormous opportunity for growth and self-advancement that flows from unlimited freedom of choice may diminish rather than enhance subjective well-being.” The paralysis of choice, however, is somewhat of a bourgeois pickle: the study found that non-Westerners and working class Westerners don’t put the same emphasis on having an abundance of choice as the middle and upper classes.


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In defense of the simple life

  1. Ironically, people at the bottom of the income ladder – I'm talking the lowest decile, not quintile – also face too many choices, which they must make every day. The stress caused from this is both felt and visible, in terms of eroding health and ability to get around; added stress, for example, increases the likelihood of disability. Having to make so many choices is a key theme in blogs by people of very low-income. It's an exhausting fact of life for us.