One of the biggest dogmas is this: If we want to maximize ourhappiness, the best way to achieve it is to maximize our freedom.
That is because freedom is something valuable, worthwhile and essential to every single one of us. It sounds logical.
When we have freedom we can use it to do things that maximize our happiness, wedont takeorders from anyone and no one makes decisions on behalf of us. The way to maximize freedom is to maximize choice.
Most people want to make more money not because they want the cold hard cash, but because with money comes freedom in life.
The more choices we have, the more freedom we have. The more freedom we have, the happier we are. Noone ever questions this.
Indeed, were bombarded by endless choices today:There are more than hundred degree programs to choose from at any given university, our smartphones come with billions of apps to download and we even have numerous different salad dressings to choose from at the supermarket. We have choices.
All of them should make us happier; this belief is heavily and deeply embedded into our everyday life.
But does more choice really lead to more happiness? Below are three ways in which freedom doesnt necessarily make us happier.
1. The Negative Side Of More Freedom
Im not suggesting that more choices and freedom are bad for us. Theres no argument on how choice changes our world positively, and we all knew how more freedom brings us more happiness. But too many choices can produce procrastination and paralysis.
Imagine if Apple launched 100 different phone models in a year. The sales would drop because people would have too many options to choose from. The problem isnt the iPhones quality, its the hassle customers need to go through to make the right choice.
The more choice, the harder for us to choose, and inevitably, people would give up on making the decision and wouldnt buy the phone at all.
Also remember that the opportunity cost leads to comparison and dissatisfaction.
Lets say you have five oranges to choose from and one of them is the best orange youll ever have. This is the only chance to have that orange and if you miss it youll never be able to get your hands on it again. How does that make you feel?
More choice produces higher expectation to each and every option you have.
We know the worlds tastiest orange is one out of the five, but our brain will assume all the five are the tastiest. Even if we dont think so, rationally and logically, we assume well pick the tastiest one and we cant accept anything less than that.
But even if youre incredibly lucky to pick the best, you might think its not perfect, because you can never know what the other four oranges tasted like.
The opportunity cost of the other oranges leads to dissatisfaction in us. This happens in many different areas of our lives.
2. Eliminate Options and Choices
The more choice we have, the higher our expectation is for every choice. The higher the expectation, the harder for us to choose. After we make a decision, we compare our choice with the other alternatives and assume what we have is somehow less attractive, even if our choice is the best one we can make.
The solution to this problem is clear; we need to break the dogma we believe in so much. More choice does lead to more happiness but only up to a certain point.
We should trim down the choices we have by focusing on only the most important things.
A few examples you can implement to your daily life are: Focusing only on one business idea or career goal, removing productivity apps from your smartphone, being content with what and who you already have with you and setting only one fitness goal.
3. The Fish and The Aquarium
We are like fish in an aquarium. The size of the aquarium dictates the freedom we have, and some of us see it as our constraints. To grow, we need a bigger aquarium. Unfortunately, what most people are trying to do is break the aquarium. But without it, youre a dead fish.
With the advancement of technology today, were open to limitless choices. Thus, we want to believe that we could have limitless freedom so we can be happier.
But limitless freedom is never a good thing. Yes, we do need some freedom to expand and grow, but without constraints, wedhave no direction, no standard, no plan and certainly nohappiness.
This article was originally posted on the authors blog.
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