With jelly or without?

Making choices has never been more difficult

Written by Melanie Schlemmer

Our grandparents and parents fought for big, social revolutions but also small and personal revolutions to give us the opportunity to choose. We now have more options than ever before. Their revolutions brought us freedom of choice, independence, and empowerment.

While being grateful for those possibilities, I’m sure every one of us knows how powerless you can feel facing the endless shelves of “creamy and crunchy” peanut butter varieties. It doesn’t seem to be a life-changing decision, but sometimes even that seems to be hard to decide on.

But that problem doesn’t stop at the small choices. It has never been easier for us to create our dream life: from your jobs and education to your living situation. At the same time, expectations go up about how good things can be. It’s easy to imagine that you could have made a different choice. Economist call that ‘opportunity costs’. The value of things depends on what we compare them to. It’s all about what cultural and personal ‘filters’ we use.

Barry Schwartz, psychologist and author of “The Paradox of Choice” says that “without a doubt, having more options enables us, most of the time, to achieve better objective outcomes. But the subjective outcome may be that we will feel overwhelmed and dissatisfied.” And sometimes that means decision fatigue, and I leave with no peanut butter at all.

In this case, it helps to develop a ‘good enough mentality’. Take the one that works for you, have a set of regular choices and save the energy on the more important questions in life like “with jelly or without?”.