After the column about my frustration over being on a college wait list, reader Marni Berendsen of Walnut Creek, Calif., suggested to read an article titled “The Tyranny of Choice” that she’d read in the April 2004 Scientific American magazine. Quoting the article, she told us what she thought I should do about my college decision: Just pick a school that’s good enough, ending the college-search process. And I would be happier with the outcome, she suggested.

When I read this email, I was taken aback. How would I possibly be a happier person by restricting my options?

We found the article, by Prof. Barry Schwartz of Swarthmore College, at www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/Sci.Amer.pdf. The core advice the article gave was to “settle for a choice that meets your core requirements rather than searching for the elusive ‘best.’ Then stop thinking about it” and “Don’t worry about what you’re missing.”

Read more…