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The Agony of Perfectionism - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"The fortress of classic economics was built on the slushy marsh of rational consumer theory. The once-popular belief that we all possess every relevant piece of information to make choices about buying fridges, TVs, or whatever, has since given way to a less commendable, but more accurate, description of buyers, which is that we basically have no freaking clue what we're doing most of the time. Prices, marketing, discounts, even the layout of store and shelves: They're all hazards strewn about the obstacle course of decision-making, tripping us up, blocking our path, and nudging us toward choices that are anything but rational.

Today, rather than consider consumers to be a monolith of reason, some economists and psychologists prefer to think of us as falling into two mood groups: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers are perfectionists. They want the best of everything, and they want to know they have the best of everything. Satisficers are realists. They want what's good enough, and they're happy to have it.

The trouble with perfectionists is that, by wanting the best, they aspire to be perfectly rational consumers in a world where we all agree that's impossible. It's a recipe for dissatisfaction, way too much work, and even depression.

In "Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice," published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that maximizers are more likely to be have regret and depression and less likely to report being happy, optimistic, or have high self-esteem.

To be a maximizer requires an "impossible" and "exhaustive search of the possibilities," that invariably ends with regret when the person realizes, after the purchase, that there might have been a better choice. This regret actually "[reduces] the satisfaction derived from one’s choice." The paradox of caring too much about having the perfect version of everything is that you wind up feel dissatisfied with all of it.

A new paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research further illuminates the onerous woe of perfectionism. Maximizers apply for more jobs, attend more job interviews, spend more time worrying about their social status, and wind up less happy, less optimistic, "and more depressed and regretful" than everybody else.

In a battery of tests designed to prime subjects to act like maximizers and satisficers, the researchers validated just about every stereotype about perfectionists: They work harder, search more deeply, and perform better in their jobs, but the emotional byproducts of their accomplishments are regret and dissatisfaction. (You might say that hard-earned success in life is wasted on the people least likely to appreciate it.)

Both papers concluded that the Internet is a briar patch of misery for maximizers. Not only does it allow them to more easily compare their lot to the sepia-toned success stories of their peers on Facebook and Instagram, but also it makes comparison shopping hell. From the first paper's discussion section:
The proliferation of options [online] raises people’s standards for determining what counts as a success, [from] breakfast cereals to automobiles to colleges to careers. Second, failure to meet those standards in a domain containing multiple options encourages one to treat failures as the result of personal shortcomings rather than situational limitations, thus encouraging a causal attribution for failure that we might call “depressogenic.” [ed: had to look that one up.]

In short: The Internet doesn't have to make you miserable. But if you insist on comparing your choices and your life to every available alternative accessible through a Google search, it will.

For consumers, this means embracing the limitations of classical economics. We don't know everything. We don't have everything. And that's okay. Pretending otherwise is, in fact, anything but rational."

[See also: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/maximizing.pdf ]
choice  choices  paradoxofchoice  perfectionists  satisficers  economics  rationality  reason  2014  unhappiness  happiness  depression  jobhunting  perfectionism  optimism  regret  worry  anxiety  possibilities  satisfaction  caring  self-esteem  realism  derekthompson  advertising  internet  infooverload  information  comparison 
march 2014 by robertogreco
The Snake in the Garden - NYTimes.com
"it’s uncanny how often we let ourselves out of the Garden by worrying about something that, if it did happen, would quicken us into a response much more practical than worry. All the real challenges of my, or any, life…[examples]…came out of the blue; they’re just what I had never thought to worry about…And every time some kind of calamity has come into my life, I and everyone around me have responded with activity, unexpected strength, even an all but unnatural calm.

It’s only when we’re living in the future, the realm of “what if,” that we brilliantly incapacitate ourselves. And it’s mostly when someone abruptly cries, “Watch out!” that we lose control of the car we’re driving. Yet all the Stoic arguments are hard to absorb in that part of ourselves that matters…

We worry only about exactly those things we can never do anything about. And then that very fact becomes something else we worry about."
writing  mind  precarity  uncertainty  statusanxiety  cv  worry  anxiety  stoicism  stoics  2012  picoiyer 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Why People Avoid the Truth About Themselves — PsyBlog
"1. It may demand a change in beliefs. Loads of evidence suggests people tend to seek information that confirms their beliefs rather than disproves them.

2. It may require us to take undesired actions. Telling the doctor about those weird symptoms means you might have to undergo painful testing. Sometimes it seems like it's better not to know.3. It may cause unpleasant emotions.

…I offer no answers, merely to point out that avoiding information is a much more rational strategy for dealing with the complexities of a frightening world than it might at first seem. There's a good reason we value the innocence of youth: when you don't know, you've got less to worry about.

When we laugh at the hypocrisies of a sitcom character, it's also a laugh of uncomfortable recognition. As much as we'd prefer to avoid the information, in our heart of hearts we know we're all hypocrites."
psychology  information  behavior  discovery  feedback  self  constructivecriticism  confirmationbias  emotions  innocence  ignoranceisbliss  worry  hypocrisy 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Week 315 – Blog – BERG
"Your sensitivity & tolerance improve only with practice. I wish I’d been given toy businesses to play w/ at school, just as playing w/ crayons taught my body how to let me draw.

I’ve written in these weeknotes before how I manage three budgets: cash, attention, risk. This is my attempt to explain how I feel about risk, and to trace the pathways between risk and cash. Attention, & how it connects, can wait until another day…

I said I wouldn’t speak about attention, but here’s a sneak peak of what I would say. Attention is the time of people in the studio, & how effectively it is applied. It is affected by the arts of project & studio management; it can be tracked by time-sheets & capacity plans; it can be leveraged with infrastructure, internal tools, and carefully grown tacit knowledge; and it magically grows when there’s time to play, when there is flow in the work, and when a team aligns into a “sophisticated work group.”
Attention is connected to cash through work."
design  business  management  berg  berglondon  mattwebb  attention  flow  groups  groupculture  sophisticatedworkgroups  money  risk  riskmanagement  riskassessment  confidence  happiness  anxiety  worry  leadership  tinkering  designthinking  thinking  physical  work  instinct  frustration  lcproject  studio  decisionmaking  systems  systemsthinking  manufacturing  making  doing  newspaperclub  svk  distribution  integratedsystems  infrastructure  supplychain  deleuze  guattari  cyoa  failure  learning  invention  ineptitude  ignorance  deleuze&guattari  gillesdeleuze  interactive  fiction  if  interactivefiction  félixguattari 
june 2011 by robertogreco
davistudio: Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse
"Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting...struggling, gasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling...stumbling, rumbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatchiiing, bitching...searching, perching, besmirching...grinding away at yourself. stop it & just DO...trust & tickle something inside you, your "weird humor." you belong in the most secret part of you. don't worry about cool, make your own uncool...if you fear, make it work for you -- draw & paint your fear & anxiety. & stop worrying about big, deep things such as "to decide on a purpose and way of life..." you must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. then you will be able to DO! i have much confidence in you & even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. try & do some BAD work. the worst you can think of & see what happens but mainly relax & let everything go to hell."

[via: http://laurenzettler.tumblr.com/post/554920621/learn-to-say-fuck-you-to-the-world-once-in-a ]

[Update 31 January 2013: Links are dead. Try this: http://www.gwarlingo.com/2011/sol-lewitts-advice-to-eva-hesse/ via Caren Litherland]

[Update 12 August 2013: Another location via @datatelling http://magazine.seymourprojects.com/2013/02/s-stimulant-sol-lewitts-advice-to-eva-hesse/ ]
sollewitt  evahesse  do  glvo  motivation  initiative  overthinking  action  actionminded  uncool  cool  fear  risk  risktaking  worry  anxiety  purpose  yearoff  freedom 
june 2010 by robertogreco

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