Happy Life is combination of ‘GOOD ENOUGHs’: Dilemma of Choice Overload

A happy life is result of settling for a good enough option rather than searching through a long in exhaustive list of options for the best possible one. As human being, we have limited cognition and mental capacity which goes against the notion of finding the best option. As in our daily life, we are continuously performing the task of decision making from choosing what to eat in breakfast, to what to select as major subject in our educational career, to choosing life partner etc. and this decision making process in our life is never ending in nature. We are continuously making choices facing unlimited options with a limited time duration.

Our ancient human ancestors never faced so many choices and lived simple life with minimum options but with advent of humanity towards advancement and modernity, we have expanded the list so much that the possibility of going through the list is impossible. With our limited time and mental cognition, we would be better off to stop at good enough option than searching for the best.

The modern world’s smorgasbord of options makes us less happy, not more. We are facing a dilemma of “Choice Overload” in which we question the choices already made even when they are good enough because we have Fear of Missing out (FOMO). FOMO makes anything we do less enjoyable, because we are worrying that another choice could have gotten us more pleasure.

This situation is actively felt by persons who fall in group of Maximizers.

Maximizers are the persons who continuously search for the best. For this they compare their decisions with others. They expend more time and energy in the process to find the best but still are unhappier with the outcomes because they think the outcomes could be better or perfect if they made better decisions or made another choice or selected next option etc.

And on the other hands, there are Satisficers. They are the ones who are happy with good enough and are not obsessed with the best. They don’t obsess over other options as they are satisfied with the option they have already chosen even if another better option becomes available after they have made their decision. They can move on after deciding and are happier with the outcomes. They do not exhaust their time and energy in impossible quest for the best.

When we are looking to maximize or chasing after best, we can end up spending so much time deliberating which choice is going to yield the best results, that we create a lot of unnecessary stress and tension in the process of choosing, which sucks the joy right out of the whole process and our life.

In the search for best we exhaust our mental energy to enjoy what we already have. We can go to work in any car but we want the best, we can live in any house but we want the best, we can eat any food but we want the best, we can live our life with suitable threshold of income but we want the best (to be at top of income slab or move to next slab) etc. In running behind the best, we live a life full of stress, anxiety and distress.

In Consumerism Culture prevalent today also, Maximizers are those consumers who desire to make the absolute “best” choice from all the product alternatives available; satisficers are those who instead choose the first product that meets their minimum or immediate needs.

Therefore, Maximizers also report much lower levels of satisfaction and well-being about their decisions, often suffering from something known as “buyer’s remorse”, which is wondering if they really did make the best decision because they can rarely be sure that they have made the “best” choice. Maximizers therefore spent much more time comparing their buying decisions to their peers, neighbors, colleagues, family, which is doomed to a vicious circle of dissatisfaction and despair – there will always be someone richer than us, younger than us, more beautiful than us out there.

There are various scientific studies that shows even when maximizers earn more than satisficers, satisficers are happier with their life than maximizers

People develop high standards for the goods and services they consume. These factors can lead to a refusal to accept anything perceived as “good enough” or “second best.” But from a life satisfaction perspective, it turns out that making “good enough” choices makes us happier overall.

A happy life is therefore a combination of ‘GOOD ENOUGHs” not the ‘BESTs’. As Best is a relative term not absolute because a thing which is best for someone can be moderate for other and a thing which is considered best at a certain time or under certain circumstances can become obsolete with change of time and circumstances.

So, Best is an illusion which no one achieves and desiring it will result in unhappiness and Good Enough is the reality which life offers and accepting it will make you appreciate what your life already offers and live a happy one.

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