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Why It's Healthier to Settle for Something that's 'Good Enough'

Olga Khazan argues that always gunning for the best option may leave us with a feeling of regret — there's always something better on the horizon. So, instead, be able to be happy with something that's "good enough."

Olga Khazan from The Atlantic has made a compelling argument on why it's good to settle. The idea goes against everything we're been told by friends and motivational Twitter feeds: Never settle, they say. But Khazan argues that having so many choices is setting our expectations too high that we'll ultimately be disappointed when we settle on what we think is best.


When psychologist Barry Schwartz released his book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, it helped people understand why consumers have become so preoccupied in making decisions in all aspects of our lives. In his TED Talk, Schwartz says he gives out less homework than he used to, because his students are more preoccupied by all the choices available to them. Decisions over medical treatments to what kind of soda you should buy falls on the individual, and while this kind of autonomy over our own destinies can liberate us, it can also paralyze us.

Ten years since the book's release, Khazan writes that it has only gotten worse:

“The rise of social media, he argues, has only heightened the agony of decision-making through phenomena like FOMO (fear of missing out).”

People become fearful that they don't have the best job or the latest and greatest phone, resulting in a dissatisfaction with a product or decision that may suit you just fine.

“One of my favorite Schwartzisms is this: If you ever aren't sure if you attended the very best party or bought the very best computer, just settle for 'good enough.'"

Schwartz says that these "satisficers," people who settle for "good enough," are much better off than the “maximizers,” who constantly need to have the best. Better jobs and consumer electronics will continue to increase expectations, so when you finally do make a decision, Schwartz says:

“...it's easy to imagine you could have made a different choice that would have been better. And what happens is this imagined alternative induces you to regret the decision you made, and this regret subtracts from the satisfaction you get out of the decision you made, even if it was a good decision.”

So, be able to be happy about something that's “good enough.”

Read more at The Atlantic.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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