Monday, September 26, 2005

Book Review: The Paradox of Choice

I found this book in Books and Culture and it looked interesting. The full title is The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. It's by Barry Schwartz, who is a professor at Swarthmore College. His central premise is while we may think that more options are good, in reality, for most people more choice leads to less satisfaction. Here's a long quotation from the prologue: "This book is about the choices Americans face in almost all areas of life: education, career, friendship, sex, romance, parenting, religious observance. There is no denying that choice improves the quality of our lives. It enables us to control our destinies and to come closes to getting exactly what we want out of any situation. Choice is essential to autonomy, which is absolutely fundamental to well-being. Healthy people want and need to direct their own lives. On the other hand, the fact that some choice is good doesn't necessarily mean that more choice is better. As I will demonstrate, there is a cost tot having an overload of choice. As a culture, we are enamored of freedom, self-determination, and variety, and we are reluctant to give up any of our options. But clinging tenaciously to all the choices available to us contributes to bad decisions, to anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction -- even to clinical depression." Good book. I've been reading it slowly in the evenings! It really describes well many people I know who seem to be paralyzed by choices. The key takeaway for my wife and I was this question, which Schwartz says is the key to healthiness in this area: "What is good enough?" For example, I don't have to have the best coffee cup, but only one that is good enough, so that I can then put an appropriate amount of research and attention that the decision requires. Like I said...good read!

2 comments:

donor of plasma said...

i browsed this book in barnes and noble the other day. it looked really good! just what the church needs...

ckd said...

Here's a thought...my small group was having a great discussion about truth, bibilical interpretation, the Roman Catholic Church and Colossians the when I read your comment, I thought this...

I wonder if the protestant environment -- where there are thousands of different answers for every question -- is tiring for many people?

I ran into someone I know a couple months ago who had left an evangelical church to begin attending Mass. When I asked her about her journey she said she was tired of there always being so many discordant answers to everything and she found the "ONE VOICE" of the RCC simpler.

Just a thought that could be worked out sometime.