Gets it Right ----
I was reading an article in the Parade
supplement of the Sunday newspaper; it's titled "When
It's All Too Much". It was about how we have
too many choices in today's society and how too many
choices are making us unhappy. The more we have, the
more we want. What caught my attention was the picture
that went along with the article, a woman sitting with
about 20 different pairs of red shoes in front of her
to choose from. (it made me think of a cross between
Denise and Karen!) So I read on.
These researchers conclude that we think more choices
make us happier, when in fact, the opposite is true.
Increased choice and wealth are leading to decreased
well-being. The general happiness of Americans has been
consistently going downhill. Over the past 30 years
– a time of great prosperity – the people
who normally describe themselves as “very happy”
has declined by about 5 percent. If 5 percent doesn’t
sound like a lot, well, that equates to about 14 million
people. And that’s a lot of unhappy people. There
are more depressed people than ever, more suicides,
I had some sick people in my house just before Christmas.
Ted had the Hong Kong Fluooey (that’s what I’m
calling it) and 2 of my 3 kids had similar, smaller
versions of it. They did have the fever and body aches
in common. So I went a-shopping for OTC drugs at CVS.
I had in my mind that I wanted Tylenol, for day and
night, adults and kids. When I got there, I was quite
overwhelmed to find dozens upon dozens of cold medicines.
Tylenol, as well as all other name brands, has about
15 different kinds of cold medicines. Mingled in between
each of these are the generic store brands.
I felt like Robin Williams in the movie "Moscow
on the Hudson". He played a Russian man
who had just defected to the US in a time when you had
to stand in line for EVERYTHING in Russia. He went to
the grocery store to buy coffee and when he saw all
the tons of brands, he slowly went down the isle, eyes
roving up an down, mumbling "Folger's, Nescafe,
Taster's Choice, Chock Full of Nuts, coffee, coffee,
coffee…..then ran out of the store screaming COFFEE!,
without buying any.
I didn’t leave CVS empty handed, but I sure
left with my eyes crossed.
Back to the article.
There was a test inside the article, to see if you
are a Maximizer. A Maximizer
is someone who will accept only the best possible result.
And while this may sound like a good way to be, Maximizers
tend to be unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives.
And when they have to settle for less, they hate it
and agonize over it. I really don’t feel that
I’m that kind of person, but when I took the test
my score was 45. If you scored between 35 and 50 you
are said to have those tendencies. There is a chance
to get a score of over 50, but those people were pretty
much asked to seek professional help (It didn’t
say that in the article, but it was the gist that I
Here is a sample of the questions they asked. You’re
asked to choose between 1 and 7 for your answer, 1 being
totally disagree and 7 being totally agree.
1. I often fantasize about living in ways that are
quite different from my actual life. My
2. No matter how satisfied I am with my job, it’s
only right for me to be on the lookout for better opportunities.
My answer: 6
3. When I am in the car listening to the radio, I often
check other stations to see if something better is playing,
even if I am relatively satisfied w/ what I’m
listening to. My answer: 6
4. When I watch TV, I channel-surf, even while attempting
to watch one program. My answer:
7 (except when "Sex
in the City" is on)
5. Renting videos is really difficult; I’m always
struggling to pick out the best one. My
answer: 7 (I make Ted do it, waaaaaay too many
That’s only half the questions and I’m
already over the score of being a Maximizer! So am I
really that unhappy with my life like the research says?
The good news is that there are steps you can take
so choices don’t overwhelm you, that are kind
of simple, but doable:
- Decide where in your life choice is really important,
and then limit yourself in your options.
- Settle for a choice that is “good enough”
instead of agonizing over that elusive “best.”
- Teach yourself to be content with the choices you’ve
made. How you rate a choice is directly influenced
by how it compares with your expectations.
- (This is the ONE point that I think is depressing
and a bit cynical) “Don’t expect too much,
and you won’t be disappointed”, they say
it is cliché but good advice to follow if you
want to be more satisfied with your life. Not happy,
satisfied. Well, I equate satisfied with happy. Maybe
that’s wrong of me to do, but I also think that
if you expect nothing you’re probably going
to get exactly that, nothing.
I’m not sure I learned anything from this article,
but it was interesting.
I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but I
did this year and it has 3 parts: Don’t sweat
the little stuff, smile more, and be happy. It’s
amazing how all three of those things will rub off on
Until next time…..