In the spirit of Alvin Tofflers' Future Shock, a social critique of our obsession with choice, and how it contributes to anxiety, dissatisfaction and regret.
Whether were buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee, selecting a long-distance carrier, applying to college, choosing a doctor, or setting up a 401(k), everyday decisions - both big and small - have become increasingly complex due to the overwhelming abundance of choice with which we are presented.
We assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress. And, in a culture that tells us that there is no excuse for falling short of perfection when your options are limitless, too much choice can lead to clinical depression.
In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice - the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish - becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice--from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs--has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution. Schwartz also shows how our obsession with choice encourages us to seek that which makes us feel worse.
©2004 Barry Schwartz (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
A solid survey of behavioral economics literature related to the premise that the wide range of choices we have (what to read, how to read it, what rating to give it, where to post our review) actually ends up making us unhappier (tyranny of small decisions). Schwartz's summary is similar to a lot of those pop-economic books that seem to pop up regularly and sell quite well because they both tell us something we kinda already suspected, but also gently surprise us with counter-intuitive ideas at the same time. We are surprised, we are also a little validated: just little bit of supply with a very light touch demand.
This book belongs snug on the bookshelf next to: anything by Malcolm Gladwell, Freakonomics, Predictably Irrational, Nudge, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), etc. All interesting, all worth the time (as long as the time is < 5 hrs), but none of them are brilliant. They are all Gladwell-like in their reductionism (this is why they all sell so well to the business community and are pimped heavily by Forbes to TED). I am both attracted and repelled by the form. They seem to span the fissure between academic and pop, between economics and self-help. I read them and I end up feeling like I know a bit more about myself, and NOW I'm just disappointed in that bastard for a couple more rational reasons.
This work caused me to realize that much of the stress of my life is related to the infinite list of possibilities and choices that I have to make. It also gave me a set of strategies for dealing with that stress.
The second half was useful because it was expanded material built on the first half which was material I had already read in other works.
I often got distracted by the way the reader would just read what we're obviously section headers straight through and continue on to the text of the section. I had to mentally stop to put the organization of the work together in my head when a section header should have been an obvious part to help organize it. Setting section header off in the reading, as in the actual text, would make the reading much more coherent.
This is not the first audio book to be read this way, but it certainly was distracting to me.
Not in non-fiction
After watching TED talk and liking what I heard, I thought I'd pick up the audio book and get into some more detail.
Sadly after an hour I gave up. The first few chapters are extremely repetitive. He lists choice lists over and over again. ... 'and then you have medical insurance'. option 1, 2,3,4... 'and then you have cookies' chocolate chip, oatmeal... over and over again. I had to give up. Maybe the book will get better in the following chapters, but after an hour I decided to give up and switch to the next audiobook I'd grabbed.
From what I listened to, you could get most of the information from the above 20minute TED talk.
Not likely. He had an almost forced steady rate of speech and he seemed to place too much emphasis/stress in the "ity" for words such as "opportunity" and "possibility" which was rather distracting once I noticed it.
I will likely go back and review parts of this book again, but I would get a physical copy because of the narration.
Different Narrator and more stories I could relate to. Easier to follow.
I think it had a lot to do with the narrator.
Boring and not dynamic in areas.
The author made it clear not only how much the phenomenon of "overchoice" affects us, but how to overcome it.
I've really never read anything similar.
Aloof, clipped, and unemotional
The way to enjoy your choices more is to impose your own limits on choice.
As a recovering perfectionist, I found this book to be a wonderful guide to living a simpler, more satisfying life by limiting the choices that I have to make and by consciously choosing the amount of value that I assign to the choices that I do make.
I really enjoyed the information and ideas conveyed in this book, however I found the narration hard to listen to for any length of time. My next step is to pick up the hard copy.
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