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happiness project

the happiness project and having too many choices

the happiness project and having too many choices

I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of choices in my life. I love going to a restaurant with a set menu - no choices! You know the Cheesecake Factory menu? The one that is more like a catalog than a menu? It makes me anxious just to think about it. On a more serious note, I've also been paralyzed by choices of which life path to take at various points in my life - after college, after grad school, after moving to various cities. I once heard on an Fresh Air interview that President Obama has completely removed as many minor decisions from his daily life as possible so that he can save the decision making for the important things. For him, one of the choices he removed was what to wear every day. Makes sense to me.

While I certainly am never going to wear the same thing every day, I think that it's interesting to think about limiting our choices in our wardrobe. My sister and I were having a conversation recently about our closets and how we both purge them obsessively (in fact, she got up from the couch right after our conversation and got rid of a few things). She mentioned the book The Happiness Project, which I had heard lots about but never read. When I got home, I checked it out from the library. Here's what the author, Gretchen Rubin, had to say about cleaning out clutter:

"Having few clothing choices made me feel happier. Although people believe they like to have lots of choice, in fact, having too many choices can be discouraging. Instead of making people feel more satisfied, a wide range of options can paralyze them. Studies show that when faced with two dozen varieties of jam in a grocery store, for example, or lots of investment options for their pension plan, people often choose arbitrarily or walk away without making any choice at all, rather than labor to make a reasoned choice. I certainly felt happier choosing between two pairs of black pants that I liked rather than among five pairs of black pants, the majority of which were either uncomfortable or unfashionable - and which made me feel guilty for never wearing them, to boot."


(Read more of Gretchen Rubin's work at