Ever felt paralyzed while making a decision, such as which car to buy or where to go on vacation, because you wanted to make the absolute best choice to guarantee that you’d be happy? Well, it turns out, this approach to decision-making has the opposite effect! Tune into this week’s episode to find out why researchers say taking a “good enough” approach is the secret to the kind of decision-making that brings you joy. Then, find out my 7 suggestions for incorporating their advice into your life.
Inspired by the book The Happiness Upgrade: One Small Step Up to a Happier Life by Gabrielle Lichterman (available at Amazon)
Learn more: HappinessUpgrade.com
Ever felt paralyzed while making a decision, such as which car to buy or where to go on vacation, because you wanted to make the absolute best choice to guarantee that you’d be happy? Well, it turns out, this approach to decision-making has the opposite effect! Keep listening to find out why researchers say taking a different approach when making a choice leads to joy.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Happiness Upgrade Podcast. I’m your host, Gabrielle Lichterman, health journalist and author of the book The Happiness Upgrade: One Small Step Up to a Happier Life. In each podcast episode, I share one easy study-backed method to improve your mood. I also give you my 7 suggestions for ways to try the technique. Now for this episode’s Happiness Upgrade tip….
Have you ever found it nearly impossible to make a choice because you kept weighing the pros and cons of each choice over and over? You wanted to ensure that you made the very best choice possible. This way, it would guarantee you’d be happy with what you picked.
For example, maybe you found it difficult to choose a laptop because there were so many good options and each choice offered a different benefit, such as a larger screen or more memory.
Or perhaps you couldn’t select which school to attend because each one had pluses and minuses, such as the programs they offer or their opportunities to study abroad.
Or maybe you couldn’t decide where to go on vacation because you wanted to make sure the destination you picked was the most relaxing or most entertaining.
It may seem to make sense that if you hold out until you determine the perfect choice, it would guarantee you’d be happy with the outcome.
However, turns out, the opposite is true.
That’s the word from researchers from around the globe, including those from the University of Leeds in the U.K, University of Waterloo in Canada and University of Talca in Chile, just to name a few.
These researchers have spent years studying this kind of decision-making, which they call “maximizing”—that is, trying to make the best decision possible.
According to the results of their studies, striving for the perfect choice has lots of problems: For instance, it’s mentally exhausting. It gobbles up your time. And, it prolongs your anxiety as you try to make your decision.
On top of all that, the researchers say that maximizing ultimately sets you up for regret about the decision you make. That’s because after you’ve finally made your choice, you’re likely going to come across yet another “perfect” option that makes you feel like you picked wrong. This means that no matter how much you try to find the best possible selection, you may not ever feel like you really do, which leaves you unhappy.
So, how can you make a choice that is sure to make you happy? The researchers have the answer: Settle on good enough.
This option, which researchers have dubbed “satisficing”, means selecting a choice that fulfills most of your key needs, but is not 100% perfect.
Sounds strange to deliberately make a choice that you know isn’t the best. However, studies show that doing so gives you instant relief. That’s because it puts a stop to the grueling decision-making process. You can stop endlessly researching and comparing. As a result, you can relax and move on.
Not only that, but get this: The research shows that folks who follow this advice—to settle on good enough—are actually more satisfied with their choices than those who try to find the perfect pick. This may be because you have lower expectations, so the choice either meet or exceeds them.
So, how can you adopt the “good enough” approach to making choices to give yourself a Happiness Upgrade this week? Here are my 7 suggestions:
1. When faced with a large number of options for a big decision, such as which laptop or vehicle to buy, limit your research to three trusted sources that have expert interviews (such as websites or podcasts), then follow the experts’ advice.
2. Go with what your gut tells you is right. Research suggests that your intuition is really your brain piecing together bits of information you already know or your brain picking up on information that you haven’t processed consciously. From this, you get a hunch about what choice to make.
3. When it seems like all the choices are equal, make your pick at random just for fun. For instance, can’t decide between a beach getaway or big-city adventure? Flip a coin!
4. Have a person in charge make a recommendation, for example, ask a barista at a café when choosing a beverage or librarian when looking for your next great book to read.
5. Ask a friend or family member what they would choose. Or let them choose for you. Sometimes, letting someone else do the deciding gives you the most relief. That’s because it lets you off the hook no matter what the outcome is. After all, it was someone else’s choice.
6. Give yourself a deadline to make your choice, for example, 24 hours to decide which event to attend.
7. Go with what you’ve already had in the past. For example, revisit a favorite vacation destination. Or go with what someone you know has chosen in the past. For instance, if your mom attended a certain university and loved it, then that might be good for you, too.
Those were my 7 suggestions for using the “good enough” approach to decision making. I hope you find them helpful.
Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Happiness Upgrade Podcast. I hope the mood-boosting tips that you heard today help you give yourself a Happiness Upgrade.
This podcast was inspired by my book, The Happiness Upgrade: One Small Step Up to a Happier Life. This book shows you how small, easy actions can halt an unwanted negative mood and lead to a rise in happiness. You can find my book, The Happiness Upgrade, at Amazon.
If you enjoyed this episode of the Happiness Upgrade Podcast, please subscribe to it and share it with friends. I try to get this podcast out every week, but let’s say it’s every weekish. Life can sometimes get in the way. This particular episode was a bit late, for example. But, you can always find more easy happiness-boosting tips in my book, The Happiness Upgrade.
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I would love to connect with you and know how you give yourself a Happiness Upgrade. So, send me an email at Gabrielle@HappinessUpgradePress.com.
I hope your week is filled with happiness!