21 December 2016 - By Francesco Granati, alumnus: 'Too many alternatives have the opposite effect of making a decision easier. A decision is easy when there is only one way to go, or maybe two.'
One keyword for today: abundance. It seems to fit awfully well with our heads, hearts and stomachs already turned towards the Christmas over-eating. I am not here, however, to talk about Christmas eating (I wish, I love food), but to sort of tackle a part II post on London. Aside from what I have already written the last time, I think that this is probably a great, if not the best word to describe this city.
There is so much of everything, in every field you can think of. My theory is that this illusion of ‘having it all’ keeps people quite unhappy rather than satisfied (you just need to look at the faces in the tube in the morning).
Let’s think about it for a second: there is an endless amount of jobs, there is an endless amount of cuisine types and restaurants, quirky coffee places and clubs, and there is an endless amount of singles and dating apps.
I call this extreme abundance.
Having lived here for three years, I have observed people to be stressed, moody, tired, fatigued and going through the same moves every day, without their hearts in it. Am I perhaps talking about myself? Yes and no. As I wrote last time, my love and hate for London comes in waves, similarly to ebb and flow, which means that at times I might have felt the above too.
One explanation for these states of mind might be that there are too many alternatives available to people. Let me name a few examples.
- The people who never commit stably to a single person, because of the fact that they are lured by the immense swarms of people readily available on their dating apps.
- The people who never enjoy their present job (like our fathers and mothers did or had to learn to do), because of all the recruiters contacting you whilst promising you the perfect role and salary increase.
- The people who don’t see takeaway as a special ‘one time off’ thing (similarly to when we were kids) but rather as something common; something to overuse; something to substitute normal cooking at home.
- The people (and I fall in this category for sure) who have so many restaurants next to their house, you name it, Asian, Indian, Argentinian, Italian, local – and still manage to complain that there is little choice or that ‘it’s always the same’.
This extensive, exaggerated set of alternatives that everyone faces, be it in the field of romantic encounters, food choices or career paths, not only can help creating unhappiness by overfeeding dopamine receptors with simply too much dopamine, but it brings your plane into stall.
You freeze. Too many alternatives have the opposite effect of making a decision easier. A decision is easy when there is only one way to go, or maybe two. Is that a happy decision then? Well, this is an entirely different topic for the next time perhaps. The main point here is that if I am faced with so many possible choices every time, the chances are that I will be stuck in my decisive process more than if I just had two alternatives, A or B. Just think about it: it’s either this job, or that one. It’s either the coffee place around the corner or nothing. Sounds definitely easier for me. The question again is if easier means also happier?
Stay tuned, and of course: Merry Xmas and happy feasting!
Francesco Granati (31) completed the Master’s programme in Communication Science (track Persuasive Communication) in 2014.