Friday, July 22, 2016

Thoughts on the Barry Schwartz video

When Barry Schwartz discusses maximizing individual freedom with offering maximum available choices to consumers, he makes great points, mentioning how things were in the past compared to today.  There are obviously many more choices today.  Is that always good though?  In my opinion, along with Mr. Schwartz, it isn’t always for the best.  For instance, his example of making choices at your kid’s soccer game, and the paralysis people can get when offered too many choices. 
For example, when Mr. Schwartz discusses the study of 401k decision-making, I could absolutely relate.  At age 21 when I was first eligible for my company’s 401k plan, I was uneducated on the subject or how to get help on it.  I put it off for years!  As another example, as I age, I can more and more relate to the problems of escalation of expectation, especially with technology.  I feel so out of the loop with all the choices we are offered with laptops, internet options, cell phones, etc.  I also agree with Mr. Schwartz on it being easier to regret personal choices with the more options available.  I “could have done better” happens all the time in all of us.  We have all these options that offer great benefits.  When we settle for what we can afford or have the time for, we cannot help but think that there is something better that we could have had. 
Lastly, I would like to mention that I am also able to relate with the negative effects of patient autonomy.  My recent health had provided me with the opportunity for both back and foot surgery.  These procedures are not needed for my survival; therefore the decision lies completely on me as to whether I should go through with it.  Both doctors told me “if you can live with the pain, then you may not feel the need for the surgery.  But if you can’t, you might want to try it”.  This leaves me feeling guilty in a couple ways.  1. If I get the surgery, I am somehow a weaker person because I cannot live with the pain.  And 2. If I “try” it, and it doesn’t work, it was my bad decision.       
I would not say that options are the enemy.  Some are harmless and take little energy, such as deciding to but white or yellow American cheese at the deli counter.  All these little, medium and large decisions made each and every day take a toll on the mind and body.  We wear ourselves out, not even realizing that during the course of a day, we make thousands of decisions.   


  1. Hi Lauri, interesting thoughts on patient autonomy. I currently work in health care and the change to including the patient in the decision-making process is widely touted as a great one. Providers would run into so much trouble (aka lawsuits) when the patient wasn't the one ultimately calling the shots, as long as they are able. It is good for me to see an alternate perspective on that--thank you for sharing!
    I certainly know that my husband gets what he and I call "decision fatigue," where he literally can't stand to make one more decision at the end of the day. Dinner? "Whatever you want. Seriously. Don't make me decide."

  2. Hello Lauri, as far as feeling out of the loop with all the new technology, you shouldn't. Everything is not for everybody, and just like this class it at your pace, and not allow the fact that there are more choices distract you from the right choices. For example, technology has worked to my advantage by providing a personal shopper for the grocery store, amongst other stores. However, the grocery store has thousands of options, which is too much for my wallet, but if I place the order in advance and pick it up, I will avoid all extra costly options. So options should only be utilized by only the expense that we allow them.
    As for your back surgery, you should not waste another day contemplating, do the research figure out what works for you and what doesn't. Living in pain is not only unsafe for you mentally and physically, but it not fair to your family and friends. Physical always eventually disrupts you mentally in the short or long run and sometimes unconsciously, which can lead to having no one wanting to be around a grumpy person in pain. My apologies if I got too deep, but pain effects everyone not just you. #getsomehelp

  3. Thanks, Nakesha. The pain isn't life altering, only bothersome. Which is why I am on the fence about it. I also do the online grocery shopping! I find that I buy less impulse items, and I am able to track my spending before I checkout. Not to mention, it saves a TON of time. So very thankful for options such as this that technology provides us.