[CJP Insights] Paradox of Choice


Steve Jobs was a great fan of Sony co-founder Akio Morita. In 1985, he visited the Sony headquarters in Tokyo to understand the Japanese way of doing business. This was like, nine years after he and his friend founded Apple computers.

During the computer tour, he was particularly fascinated by the uniforms of the Sony employees at the time. He wanted to meet the designer, the uniform designer. He met Issey Miyake, a very famous Japanese fashion designer. He’s known for his minimalist designs. So he asked Miyake if he could design a dress for Apple employees. Miyake agreed, and the result is the famous black turtleneck T-shirt, which became Steve Jobs’ signature style. He wore the black turtleneck T-shirt and blue jeans for many years you must have seen during all the product launches. It became synonymous with his image. For Steve Jobs, it wasn’t just a fashion statement. It was a deliberate choice to eliminate the daily decision of what to wear. His preference for wreaking the same kind of shirt every day can be connected to a psychological principle called the “Paradox of Choice”.

Paradox of Choice

The paradox of choice is a phenomenon where having too many choices can lead to decision fatigue and dissatisfaction. Steve Jobs believed that by limiting his choices, he could simplify his life and focus on the things that were most important to him. See, when we are faced with too many choices, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and make a decision that we are not happy with. We all experience this, right?

Everyday. much of our energy is wasted everyday thinking of what to wear, what to eat and what to watch. We didn’t have this problem a few years back, right? I mean, I remember during my childhood, we had only one TV channel, Doordarshan, and they used to play one movie every week and we were happy with it. Today, the variety on OTT platforms often leaves us exhausted, just trying to pick something to watch. Thirty years ago, if someone told their neighbor that I’m planning to buy a car, the immediate follow-up question would be like, which colour? Because there were only two brands, Brand didn’t matter, Ambassador or Maruti but today you tell your friend that I’m planning to buy a car, you can expect so many questions. Electric, hybrid, petrol or diesel, manual transmission or automatic, a sedan or a SUV. I mean, you got what I’m saying, right? Because every month there is a new version coming out. Our choices have expanded…big time! Youngsters are finding it difficult to get married because people are overwhelmed with options: matrimonial sites, dating sites, social media. When you have so many options, you end up in confusion, you end up in delay and indecision. Another example is food options. Before, you used to go to a restaurant and pick something from the menu. Now we have all this food ordering app, you have the menu of all the hotels in your city on your mobile phone. Literally spoiled for choice. Of course, having variety is good, but too many varieties? Not sure. There is one more side to this, the other extreme. It’s called minimalism. We can actually simplify our lives. Let’s explore the power of minimalism.

Power of Minimalism

Steve Jobs is a big fan of minimalism. He followed Japanese Zen Buddhism. You will see this in the design philosophy of all apple products. Minimalism is a lifestyle. It’s all about living with less. It’s about focusing on what matters most and letting go of the extra stuff. The idea is to focus on the things that are most important to you and get rid of the things that are not.

Purpose over Possessions

Instead of filling your space with stuff, fill your days with meaningful activities.

The Power of No

Have you ever felt drained because you said YES to everything? You took a lot of stuff on your plate? By saying No to the things that don’t make you happy or add value to you, you’re actually making room for things that matter.

Less Stress

With fewer things to worry about or juggle, there’s more space for calm and creativity. Creativity comes from space, open space, and we need to create that space internally and externally.

Deeper Connections

By trimming down our people circle and spending time with selected people, our relationship becomes richer. By living a simple, minimalistic life, you’ll save tons of mental energy and you’ll experience less stress and anxiety. It’s about finding joy in the simpler things and letting go of the clutter, whether that is stuff people or even our thoughts. Less is more!