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The Art of Choosing

Sheena S. Iyengar

“Life is C between B and D," meaning that the life we live is the choices we make between the "B" of birth and the "D" of death, Jim Kwik said in his book Limitless. The Art of Choosing is a book about making choices that appear to be something deeply personal yet considerably swayed by external context.

Born and raised in a society where my parents and people around embrace collectivism, I acknowledge how much control I have over my life via daily choices relatively late, compared to my peers who were born in places where people feel more comfortable with making choices and decisions. Also, it was when I read this book did I realize in a specific context how some (like me) would rather opt to have others decide for them (despite our innate preference for more control). After the post-war development that dragged a large proportion of the Vietnamese population out of poverty, I belong to the first generations of people exposed to the ideology of “the more choices, the better” and feeling ashamed once not being able to make a decision. I am no longer obsessed with this feeling. Making choices is not all about comparing every option and opting for the best. Not making a choice is a choice. It is about looking a bit further at the nuance of context and how we sort through countless options “smartly.”

When the market is working hard to present us with a broader range of choices, it has failed to take into consideration the cognitive capacity of humans, which does not evolve at the same pace as the rate at which alternatives are put into availability. The strategy backfires here and there.

Not to say that there is no unique value in this book, but I recognized 80% of the content in this book in Nudge: Improving decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness.

Winter 2020

October 9, 2020 at 3:00:00 PM


socialscience, self-help, psychology


The Art of Choosing
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