According to the statistics released recently, Americans are the people who choose more options at least in every part of life as compared to other nationalities. Nevertheless, philosophically, it is logical to think that when people have more choices, they improve their lives or become happier.
However, psychologically, this supposition is erroneous and unfounded. Even though some choices are fair, it is not always true that increased choices make people happy. For instance, it is not quite clear whether more money amounts to increased happiness. On the contrary, more money and choices have only increased social problems such as family conflict, diseases and economic depression.
Take for example a person who has won a lottery. At first, the person feels excited and makes very many choices regarding the won rotary. However, as time goes by, this happiness dies slowly leaving the person in great stress and depression than before. Researchers from Yale University have revealed that the increased choices affect the well-being of many people all over the world (Schwartz, 2004, pp. 2-4).
There are several factors explain why more choices are not always better than less. For example, the problem of opportunity costs affects people with more choices. Every person aims to buy commodities that exhibit quality irrespective of its price. However, quality goes hand in hand with value meaning, the higher the quality, the higher the price.
Thus, increased choices limit people from differentiating options and alternatives. Eventually, they end up loosing these opportunities, which other options would have afforded. If people presume that opportunity costs causes a decrease in the overall desirability especially the most favorite choice, then the more the increased choices, the greater the sense of loss and dissatisfaction they will derive from the final verdict.
According to the National Time Series, individuals earning an income of below US$27 000 seem to experience a certain amount of happiness in their lives. On the other hand, individuals earning a personal income of above US$27 000 have more choices and experience higher levels of unhappiness in their lives.
This means that, as people become wealthier, they acquire freedom to do anything they wish, but on the contrary, they get less happy. The choices that people make are the ones that define their happiness. For example, to some, buying new clothes makes them happy while to others, travelling around the world induces happiness in them. Thus, happiness is something that people synthesize.
However, people only imagine what makes them happy for example, a new house, a new car, a job or winning a lottery. Research indicates that human beings make themselves happy through imagination. Thus, by achieving our desires, it does not mean that we are happy. The research further explains that people with multiple choices experience a higher degree of unhappiness as compared to those that have limited choices. This is contrary to what many believe that freedom makes people happy (Merret, 2010, p.1).
In fact, many choices make decision-making more difficult and sometimes many people find it very hard to explore the available options. When it comes to choices, we have two classes of people: maximizers and Satisficers. Maximizers are those people who constantly seek to make the best choices.
However, research shows that the proliferation of options has a negative effect of the psychological well-being of a person, that is, it increases frustration and stress levels. On the other hand, Satisficers are people who aspire to make good enough choices.
Not only do more increased choices cause stress, but also mild disappointment. Recent statistics reveals that many Americans who enjoy a variety of choices end up being less happy and depressed.
This is because they make informed choices that end up frustrating them. In most cases, people who suffer from depression are maximizers hence, a brawny connection between maximizing and depression levels. Increased choices cause disappointments and if at all it is relentless, then every choice that people make fails to yield their expectations and aspirations.
Consequently, they become less happy and devastated. Trouble increases when we take personal responsibilities for the disappointments. This is because as the trifling looms of selection become larger and larger, we fail to make concrete decisions and start blaming ourselves for nothing. Hence, we need to control our choices otherwise; they will overwhelm us and become an epidemic of unhappiness.
Our choices determine our happiness. Thus, if our multiple choices make us unhappy, then we should paternalistically control them for us to be happy. The current world presents humanity with vast choices such as electronics, food, vehicles, houses and much more. It is true that variety is good and people enjoy variety.
However, these things make us unhappy. For example, when people consume variety of foods, they end up having weight problems that makes them unhappy. Others may go for brand new cars from a showroom and immediately as they step out of the showroom, they want to buy another new commodity at the end of the month. Teenagers on the other hand are the most affected by increased choices.
Parents give their children freedom to choose and even provide them with latest commodities such as flashy mobile phones, music downloads and money to hang around with friends and so some shopping for themselves. Later on, they become unhappy and discontented with what they have and opt for other choices. Some of them may even start abusing drugs or engaging in obscene acts such as pre-marital affairs (Schwartz, 2004, pp. 8-47).
In conclusion, when people have limited choices, they appear happy. Research has also indicated that the richer people are the less happy they become. This is because people with money have increased choices. The increased choices leave us unhappy. Thus, we should invent modalities of making us happy without necessarily having increased choices. Nevertheless, humanity should not think that by controlling or limiting choices, they will become happy.
The relationship between over-abundance of choices and happiness in human beings is indefinable and complicated. However, we cannot discard the importance of choosing wisely, as it has positive effects in persons although to a certain degree. Notably, if we have increased choices, little by little we loose our psychological benefits even as the negative corollaries of choice hasten. We need to develop a culture that arrests our ability to choose so that we can make good decisions regarding our very many choices.
The decisions that we make regarding our increased choices always determines the level of happiness in us. We should not forget that choice is good and bad. It is good in the sense that it “satiates”, and bad in the sense that it “escalates”. If choice escalates, and normally this happens to maximizers, then they experience misery and unhappiness (Schwartz, 2004, p.1).
Merret, A. (2010). What makes us happy? Retrieved November 5, 2010, from
Schwartz, B. (2004). The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. London: HarperCollins.
Schwartz, B. (2004). The Tyranny of Choice. Retrieved November 5, 2010, from