By Yuval Surpin, Layout Editor
We are all familiar with the following example: you are sitting in front of the TV, ready to watch a movie. When you turn on Netflix, you are faced with a huge number of movies from all genres. Ten minutes pass, and you are still looking for a movie. Time goes by and while you are still trying to find the “perfect” movie, it gets too late — so you give up and go to sleep.
This simple Netflix example is reflected in many other situations in our lives. From food to books, from careers to relationships: today’s Western world is full of accessible options and opportunities that are just waiting for us. This exciting world is also full of information on those options. We no longer need to guess how good the food in the restaurant is since the reviews are on Google. We also don’t need to imagine what the office in our new job will look like because there are pictures of it online. But while having this variety of options and having easy access to information about them is an amazing thing we have today, this abundance also comes with a negative side.
Research shows that when we are surrounded by an abundance of options, we end up less satisfied with our decision than if we had been given fewer options. How can that be, you ask? According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, “it’s easy to imagine that you could’ve made a different choice that would’ve been better. And what happens is, this imagined alternative induces you to regret the decision you made, and this regret subtracts from the satisfaction you get out of the decision you made, even if it was a good decision.” Imagine that you are shopping for a piano. After taking time to research your dream piano, you purchase one. However, the next day, you continue to see different piano commercials. It may be that the excitement on your piano choice will stay, but it is also possible that you will feel like you have made the wrong decision and that there are better piano options for you out there. This example can take place in every field of our lives, and if we do not notice, it can cause negative effects on our well-being.
Although it is challenging, it does not have to be like that. As we think of how to make our choices less frustrating, it is important to remember that none of the options we would choose would be perfect. Even though it is hard to believe it these days, since commercials and social media present everything as perfect and glamorous, we will never find the “perfect” place, product, or relationship, simply because they do not exist. With that being said, with awareness to ourselves, we can recognize our wants and needs. When our choices meet our needs, we can decide to look at them as the perfect choices for us and feel fulfilled with them based on that. After all, isn’t that what it is all about?