LHL BOOK REVIEWS- 'The Paradox of Choice'​, Barry Schwartz

- By Cullen Haynes

- Non-Fiction - Psychology

One would think that in this ever more evolving digital world of choice, (Netflix being the perfect example) that having more choice opens us up to greater potential experiences of happiness and contentment, and that more choice = better outcomes.

Barry Schwartz's book is here to quell this misnomer...very quickly into the book I may add.

Whether it be from choosing what show to stream, buying a pair of jeans, ordering a cup of coffee (regular almond latte for me), applying fora Uni course - everyday decisions, both large and small, have become increasingly more complex due to the overwhelming plethora of choice which we're presented with.

Choice overload leads to analysis paralysis, and can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, which puts you in a potential state to blame yourself for any and all failures that may come. 

Schwartz explains that such choice can also mean high levels of anxiety and perpetual stress, and in today's culture, where perfection, success, and fortune is put on a pedestal (especially now with social media) and there's no excuse for falling short, when your options are limitless, too much choice can sometimes lead to severe depression.

In his 'Paradox of Choice', Schwartz shows the fine line between having individual freedom and determination (which we all cherish) becoming detrimental to our emotional and psychological wellbeing. Human being's obsession with choice becomes a problem instead of a solution, and the symptoms mean we encourage ourselves to over analyse and seek that which makes us feel worse.

Although the book (and this review) may come across as remarkably negative, all is not lost. Schwartz offers 11 practical steps on how to limit the choices in your life to a manageable level, focus on the worthy and choose only what's important and ignore the rest.

The result?; a life of greater satisfaction from the choice you have to make.

I seem to always gravitate towards Robert Frost and his poem 'The road not taken' but it rings especially true in this instance...

'Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I chose the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.'



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