Monday, August 30, 2010

Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar

The Art of Choosing

By the time I finished this book I found I wanted to start it all over again. Sometimes I think I may have missed my calling, by not pursuing the field of investigating choice. I am so bad at it, and yet I recognize that it is the key to navigating the modern world in the West, where the simplest decisions are rendered ridiculously complex by the plethora of choice.

Iyengar covers the waterfront with her examination of choice, from birth to death, and addresses many of the major life choices most of us face in the course of our lives. She recognizes the difficulties each of us face in choosing colleges, spouses, jobs, houses, and discusses the irrationality many of us bring to our own choices. Several times I felt my heart beating a little faster when she began to describe a difficult choice that was facing me now, or one that I had made in the past, but which has left me unhappy.

Iyengar suggests that decision-making can be improved by setting constraints on our options, and sticking with them. She describes conversations with artists and jazz musicians in which they claim great invention can be achieved when one sets limits on type of creation one seeks to achieve, and operating within a framework. It is too easy to flail about in a sea of options, but if we set limits for ourselves, we narrow our range, and can be satisfied and happy with choices we have made. As art is created by using objects at hand, so good, even great decisions that make us happy can be achieved within our own limited circumstances. After all, isn't it all really about being as happy and satisfied as possible, rather than miserable in the midst of plenty?

A good and thoughtful book that moves me forward with hope. The audio was beautifully read by Orlagh Cassidy.

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