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Mindful : October 2013
Henry Ford famously said that people could get a Model- T in any color they wanted—as long as it was black. Today you can get the Ford Focus alone in 10 different colors, and that’s just one of more than 25 mod- els Ford makes. When you add in all the options, the variations are almost infinite. But do all of these choices actually make us happier? We’re raised to believe that the more choice we have, the better. But if you think that end- less choices mean a happier life, think again. Psychologist Barr y Schwar tz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, says too much choice can paralyze us. A simple stroll through the grocer y store can leave us bombarded and spending precious time on even the most minor decisions (toothpaste or gel? Dish pow- der or liquid?). And a Columbia University study found that when we finally do choose from among a sea of options, we end up less satisfied with our deci- sion. Turns out all those choices ramp up our expectations to a level that’s hard to meet. Daniel Barbezat of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, who is also a professor of economics at Amherst College, has some ideas about how to mindfully navigate our product-laden world. How about, naturally, some multiple choice? See if you can pick out Barbezat’s three suggestions from this list (answers below): A) Do you have a favorite color? If you buy something, it should incorporate that color. It takes the stress out of mak- ing consumer decisions, and every thing you own will match. B) Weigh the cost of searching for the best option. If you are willing to go to the ends of the Ear th to find the best choice in ever y case, you’ll be exhausted. C) Enter all of your options for any decision into a spread- sheet on your smar tphone. This will help you organize and respond accordingly. D) Consider President Obama; he wears only blue or grey suits in order to preser ve his decision-making energy for the countless and far more impor tant decisions he has to make hourly. Paying attention to what really matters isn’t just for world leaders. E) Know when to turn over your choice to someone you trust and know when to ask for advice from a reliable source. F) The bigger or more expensive choice will always be better, so that’s the one to go for. G) Flip a coin. Sometimes the oldest methods give the best results. ● Too Much Choice = Unhappy Barbezat’s suggestions are B, D, and E. CLOSE EYES Open ears. Notice a sound or sounds. Melodic, annoying, humdrum? Do you hear with more than your ears? Find more on Twitter @mindinterrupter October 2013 mindful 17 October 2013 mindful 17 PHOTOGRAPHBYCORBISPHOTOGRAPHY/VEER