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Maximize Happiness by Adopting "Good Enough" for Life's Simple Choices

Psychology Today October 29, 2021 “Why You Should Settle for ‘Good Enough’” “A decision strategy of ‘satisficing’ may increase happiness” By Eva M Krockkow, Ph.D.

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“Key Points”

“Perfectionist decision strategies can be time-consuming and impractical if faced with lots of options.”

“An alternative approach is ‘satisficing,’ which aims to increase efficiency by choosing options that are ‘good enough.’”

“Satisficing involves identifying a few key choice criteria and picking the first option that meets them all.”

“Satisficing can help to reduce decision regret and leave people feeling happier overall.”

Some of us might be prone to what is dubbed “maximizing” meaning “searching for the very best option and refusing to settle for anything less than perfect…[but experts suggest]...that perfect choices…[don’t]...guarantee happiness…”

Many of us, without thinking through our feelings, are often not OKAY with satisfactory outcomes. Enter “‘satisficing’ is not a typo. It’s the inventive word fusion of ‘satisfy’ and ‘suffice,’ and describes a decision-making approach that involves choosing options that are good enough.” The idea is to set selection criteria and then choose from a list of options the first choice that meets the acceptance criteria.

It’s letting go of maximizing the seeking of perfection when it’s not warranted. Do we really want or need to delve through hundreds of options, say for a yoga class or a new breakfast cereal, seeking the optimal choice when we can be perfectly happy with a course or product that meets our most-needed criteria. The satisficing choice is smart for these types of decisions and “you might find it still leaves you feeling happier.” It’s in part the result of matching your effort to “the relative unimportance of the task” like that yoga class or selecting a new breakfast cereal. Besides what you don’t know from all the extra-research you avoided raises your likelihood of happiness because as they say “ignorance is bliss.”

Studies suggest that maximizers are “more prone to compare themselves with other people, which left them vulnerable to regret over their choices.” Parallel findings are reported in terms of buying regret of maximizers when choosing “cars and clothes.”

Surprisingly one study reports that “maximizers usually landed more lucrative roles [but they] often reported lower levels of happiness than those employees who followed a satisficing strategy.” Having said that, satisficing is most successful in solving “trivial decision challenges” like the yoga class or breakfast cereal and is not a recommended approach for “life-changing dilemmas...few people would marry the first person they meet” regardless of savings in time and effort.


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