Thanks to Barry Schwartz, we learn that too many choices gives some freedom but doesn't improve our welfare. I will explain this via my 6 and 4 year old daughters (Kira and Erin), related to their favourite thing - ice cream.
The many flavours of ice cream at our local parlour means - more time taken to read the flavour signs, to understand what is read/heard, plus decide which flavours to have a free sample of, before making that final call.
>> You get the picture, more time and energy is spent.
Sometimes, regret sets in the moment a flavour is selected - Erin may have chosen chocolate chip ice cream but she's now concerned that it doesn't have mint (like in chocolate mint) or nuts and marshmallows (like in rocky road).
>> Multiple similar alternatives inflates the perceived attractive features of the other options and opportunity costs sets in.
Other times, there's no regret but the expectations are now way high - Kira has her butter pecan ice cream but then this must be the best choice, better than what other people have chosen, does Mama also think so?
>> The need to seek validation with others, taking away the enjoyment of the present moment.
Every time, yummy ice cream ends up in their tummies but they don't always feel better - They had to eat it fast as it was melting and even if they were already full, they felt the need to finish it all because they chose it and it's obviously the best thing ever.
>> During times of being dissatisfied and not able to blame lack of choices, we look inwards and find fault with self.
How can we then avoid analysis paralysis and (shock!) disappointment with the innocent ice cream?
1. Set the wider objective
"Can't wait to have fun, enjoy the sunshine and walk along the beach with an ice-cream"
The ice cream is just part of a fuller experience to be had, so let's get going. This also limits the time to select the flavour since the ice cream isn't the end all.
2. Limit decision-making to the most important one
"You can pick any flavour you like"
It's going to be one scoop, in a waffle cone and no toppings. I don't even get started on the number of choices for toppings since my girls don't get to choose any, saving time, less bits of sugar fall off the cone and increases happiness (mine at least).
3. Focus on what's good about your decision
"The chocolate chip is really crunchy and there's so many"
Start by savouring what's good about your choice. This encourages being in the moment, enjoying the ice cream and doesn't preclude promoting/sharing yours with others, so you also get to taste their ice cream too. Win-Win-Win.
4. Move on
... enough said. It's not all about the ice cream and there will always be more ice cream another day.