How One Choice Will Change Your Life

by kyle maynard on September 18, 2012

What if I told you that you could make one tiny change in your life, and it would make your life better?  What if I told you that it doesn’t even really matter what change you make? It could be big. It could be small. As long as its a change for the better, it doesn’t really matter what change it is.

What if I told you that you don’t even need to actually make the change for you to have a better and happier life, that all you needed to do was decide what one thing you wanted to change? Let me say this again; To lead a happier life you dont have to actually change anything, you just have to decide what you would like to change.

For all of the people out there who have already decided to join me on my 3-month challenge, you have already made your life better and happier without lifting a finger. Don’t believe me?

Just read on. I have some science to back this up.

For all of our knowledge and experiences, one question continues to elude the human race:

What is the secret to happiness?

Unfortunately, we still can’t answer this question definitively, but scientists have started to answer an important variation to this question:

What makes us happier?

As it turns out, there is now some very surprising evidence that flies in the face of conventional wisdom, and some of it comes down to choice.

The traditional thought is that choice and freedom has a one-to-one relationship with happiness. If we have more freedom and more choices, we will be happier. We think this all of the time. When you go to a clothing store do you want to be able to choose between a variety of different pairs of jeans, or only one? Stores advertise this all of the time. We hear phrases like “The largest selection of ______ in the country!”

But do all of these choices make us happier? The answer is actually a bit more complicated.

According to the independent work of Barry Schwartz and Dan Gilbert, it is true that a little bit of choice is a good thing. People generally won’t be happy if a department store only carries one type of jeans. Not everyone is going to like the same pair of denim. However, new research is finding that there is a limit. A few choices can make us happier, but too many choices can make us really unhappy.  How can this be?

Well as it turns out, as our number of choices increase, so do our expectations. We no longer expect to find a really great pair of jeans – we expect to find the perfect pair. As a consequence, every little thing that isn’t perfect with the jeans becomes magnified in our  mind. We begin to obsess, and examine things too closely. We become overwhelmed, exhausted, and (you guessed it) unhappy.

To make matters worse, even after we have made a decision and bought the jeans we like the most, return policies continue the torture. We can prolong the decision-making process. We can bring them home, and decide we don’t like them as much as we thought. Maybe we like another pair more. A hundred years ago, the concept of “buyer’s remorse” didn’t even exist. When we really think about it, the concept is completely absurd. We needed a pair of jeans. We bought a great pair of jeans that look good and fit great and for an affordable price, but now we are unhappy because maybe there is an even better pair out there somewhere.

I think the example of jeans works great because every man and woman can relate to this one. We have all felt a little overwhelmed walking into a department store these days (and maybe even worse when we walk out of one). The truth is, that this same paradox of choice happens with bigger things in our lives (and not just with our purchases).

There was a reason why I asked everyone to choose one habit to change. I know for me, there are a million things in my life that I would like to improve. I want to improve my business, my relationships, my knowledge, but I didn’t let myself think of all of those choices. I chose just to improve my health. For those of you who have joined me in my challenge, you have chosen just one thing as well.

Out of all the things we could have chosen to improve, we didn’t overwhelm ourselves. We chose just one habit. And unlike Macy’s 30-day return policy, we can’t return this one for a different one. We can’t decide that this habit is too hard to break, so we are going to choose a different one. There can be no “buyer’s remorse” here.

We have made the decision. We now have a singular focus. We don’t have to wake up each morning and decide what we are going to improve. We don’t have the “luxury” of second-guessing our decision. Our minds are also not overwhelmed with all of the different poor habits we’re trying to break or good habits we’re trying to start. By making a decision and not looking back, we have eliminated the ever-increasing number of choices and decisions. Less is more.

I don’t know about you, but this has made me a lot happier already.

I think you will also find, that just like a great pair of jeans can make any outfit look better, this one change, this one habit, will improve all aspects of your life.  In fact, I know it will. There is science behind that too, and in the next few weeks I look forward to sharing it.

I’m so excited to continue this journey with you all. We will all become better, happier people together.

Actually, we already have.

Until next time,

Kyle

 

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