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  • Writer's picturedmitryzenin

Neither Excess nor Lack: Balance

A big choice of restaurants
A big choice of clothes

We like to have many options when choosing something. If I go to the supermarket, I want to have different types of bread, tomatoes, cheese, sausage, water or cereals. If I want to eat out, I like to have different types of restaurants in my neighborhood. If I go to the clothing store, I want to try different types of jeans or T-shirts. But how far does this abundance of choices make us feel better or happier?

In our society there is a dogma:

Maximize well-being


Maximize freedom


Maximize choices


More freedom


More wellbeing


A few tens of years ago you went to a clothing store and had a few models of suit, T-shirt, shoes or socks. It was not difficult to choose and it didn’t take long. Today, you go to the clothing store and how many types and models of pants do you find?

Going through different stores for hours you understand that few things you like and, those you like, cost more. You are comparing different models and their prices, weigh the pros and cons of each model, you have difficulty choosing and there is something that attracts you in each option. In the end, you decide to buy a pair of trousers, you come home, and instead of being happy, you think there might be another one that you like better, that fits you better or that comes out cheaper. You’re not content with your purchase and maybe you’ll return your pants the next day.

The same happens in any other area: food, jewelry, toys, travel destinations, cars, schools or insurance companies. For example, you want to go out for dinner one night with your partner and it turns out that around there are many restaurants of Mediterranean, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, American, Peruvian, Dutch and Moroccan food. If there were just a couple of restaurants, you wouldn’t waste much time picking one. However, that’s often not the case. Some people lose patience, become irritated or overwhelmed when they have to choose among many options.

A big choice of sweets

It is clear that no one likes to have no choice. However, it does not follow that having more options is better. Having too many options does not lead to more satisfaction. Therefore, the ideal is to have some, but not too many options. Neither Excess nor Lack are good: look for Balance.

Positive Psychology proposes to have a Balance in everything. Both lack and abundance lead to less satisfaction. This rule applies to our behaviour and our values. For example, not having bravery makes you a coward but having too much bravery makes you a reckless, foolish and risk-taking person. A lack of leadership leads you to conformity, submission and obedience but its excess leads you to despotism. A person too kind can become intrusive but a lack of kindness leads to indifference and cruelty. The excess of creativity leads us to look like "weird", "crazy" or eccentric people, but its absence as banal or dull people.

Risky hobby

It is therefore recommended to look for an intermediate point or a Balance. For this you could train what you lack and set limits on excesses. For example, to increase creativity you could sign up for painting or poetry classes, look for other ways to complete daily tasks, invent new solutions for old problems, pay special attention to the details you don’t usually notice, use the scraps of materials you throw to create other products or propose a novel solution to resolve conflict between two friends. If you have excess of courage put limits on your actions, for example, do not exceed the speed of 50 km/h under any circumstances within the city, forbid yourself to raise your voice in a fight, imagine the negative and catastrophic results for you and the people around in case of failure to perform an action or make the decisional balance to understand if it is worth doing an action taking into account possible consequences.

What strategies do you use to choose a restaurant, a watch, a school, a garment or ice cream? How long do you invest in it? How do you feel after choosing?

Have you ever thought about values? Have you had to change anything in your life to moderate your behavior and find a Balance?


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