The best way to maximize your happiness is not to attempt to maximize your happiness! What?
Maximizing, in the psychological sense, is a form of perfectionism. In every choice (and that is what life is – a series of choices – big and little and in between), Maximizers always need to make the “perfect” choice. They demand the greatest amount of pleasure or benefit from every opportunity or choice. Since life is not perfect, not every experience is perfect, not every person is perfect and not every thing is perfect, Maximizers will always end up less happy. Maximizers also end up less optimistic, have lower self esteem and have less life satisfaction.
So what is the secret to maximizing you happiness? Choose to be happy by changing the way you make choices. Become a Satisficer! Satisficers feel content with their choices as long a as they meet a certain level of acceptability. In other words, it is good enough. It meets my needs. They focus on what is good not on what might be better – in people, activities and things. Once they’ve made a choice they focus on the positive aspects of their choice.
It all begins with establishing the criteria for a “good” choice. For me, I chose a car because I wanted to be able to carry stuff. I choose food based on certain nutritional standards. I choose shoes based on comfort. I choose clothing based on black – if it goes with black pants, it’s a go! Sometimes price is the most important criteria, sometimes it is not. I chose my apartment based on an having an open floor plan and a washer and dryer in the unit and price. When we travel the hotel has to have king-size bed, continental breakfast, a coffee pot and fridge in the room and a hair dryer. I am currently shopping for motorcycle boots. I already have a set of criteria – leather, good fit, mid-calf. When I find them I’ll buy them. I’ll be shopping for a recliner soon – one criteria – wall-hugger. I won’t even waste my time looking at anything else – no matter how nice the fabric is.
Please don’t get the idea that Satificers “settle”. They just make decisions based on what they really want and they know what they really want. They are happier with their decisions and have more life-satisfaction.
Are you a Maximizer or a Satificer? Take this quiz.