Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Book Notes : Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

I have recently finished reading "Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz. Below is my personal notes of it.

The book is centered around reminding us on how the larger number of choices does not always means more happiness. It is true that low number of choice is limiting and certain number of choices can empower us. However, when the choices has grown large several factors started to come out that could limit our effectiveness to utilize those choices. Factors like regrets, opportunity costs can ruin our lifes as much as, if not worse than, the lack of choices.

Regarding the above issues, the book can be quite repetitive. It discuss the same matters several times although using different studies and perspective. I am already quite convinced that too much choices is problem by half of the book, so the additional facts add little to it although still quite informative. The book finally closes itself by summarizing some things we can do to manage the explosion on the number of choices to our advantage. It discusses the "trick" along the previous chapters but it gave one chapter to lay it out in a summarized format. It is useful for reviews and make some plan of action.

Below is some of what you can do when faced with choices so you can utilize it optmally :

  • Choose when to choose. Decide on which area the choice is important and then spend time energy to make a good choice there. Still, limit the number of choice, so you can choose effectively. As for other areas, just stick to safe defaults.
  • Be a chooser. Have time to reflect and not being pressured. Can choose to not choose and create new options and opportunity instead. Decide substantial goal and evaluate choice based on it
  • Satisfice more and maximize less. Choose things that is "good enough", fulfill your needs and be happy with it, do not worry about loosing the ultimate best, it might not worth your time
  • Think about opportunity cost of opportunity cost. Do not worry too much about what you miss
  • Make decisions non reversible. You'll regret less
  • Practice an “Attitude of Gratitude”
  • Regret Less
  • Anticipate Adaptation. Be aware that you will finally get used to what you choose. It might not get as exciting as you experience initially. Remind ourselves about the intrinsic quality of the choice that we have made
  • Control Expectations
  • Curtail Social Comparison
  • Learn to Love Constraints. Choices within constraints is better then having none or having infinite one
Now that I think about it again, the above items might not have the same impact to the reader if the book does not repeat the ideas throughout the book on a different light. With all the books, blogs, news, apps, musics, movies, games, gadgets and with the current flood of "stuff" in our world today, this book can serve well as a reminder to not get carried away and lost ourselves and our sense of purpose in the middle of it.

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