Over a decade ago, psychologist Barry Schwartz published what might be the ultimate psychological life-hacking tome, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. In it, Schwartz argues that the modern world's smorgasbord of options—Brawny or Bounty? Coke Zero or Diet? Major in sociology or anthropology?—makes us less happy, not more. "Choice overload," as he calls it, makes us question our decisions, set our expectations too high, and blame ourselves for our mistakes.
The book spawned the usual TED talks and counterintuitive Internet takes. More recently, Schwartz has been interviewed in a variety of publications and platforms about how his advice holds up 10 years later. The rise of social media, he argues, has only heightened the agony of decision-making through phenomena like FOMO (fear of missing out).
One of my favorite Schwartzisms is this: If you ever aren't sure if you attended the very best party or bought the very best computer, just settle for "good enough." People who do this are called "satisficers," and they're consistently happier, he's found, than are "maximizers," people who feel that they must choose the very best possible option. Maximizers earn more, Schwartz has found, but they're also less satisfied with their jobs. In fact, they're more likely to be clinically depressed in general.