Having been under the weather due to a serious respiratory tract infection -- or "cold" as my wife dismissively terms it -- I was feeling a bit fed up. I announced this to my household in the hope they would gather round, sympathise and then work all evening to lift my spirits.
I was understandably upset when my wife responded with "the secret to happiness is low expectations" and looked at me rather pointedly.
Now, I could have taken this as a comment on me, but I know her too well to think this. What she was actually doing was reminding me of the work of Barry Schwartz, Professor of Social Theory at Swathmore College in the US.
Schwartz's theory is that too much choice in our modern lives is making us unhappy and anxious. Firstly the fear of not making the right choice can paralyse us into not making any decisions when any choice would have been better than none. Even when we do make a decision we are then unhappy and worried that we could have made a better choice. We then feel to blame for making the wrong choice because we we weren't forced to take the only one on offer; we chose that one.
We are left feeling that unless our choice is perfect we could have always done better. We never have a pleasant surprise.
I assume my wife must have just watched his excellent talk on TED and so she thought she'd cheer me up with her thought-provoking comment!
I'm off to watch TV now, but why is it the more channels I have the less good stuff is on? AHHH!