In his 2004 TED Talk “Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce,” Malcolm Gladwell describes how market researcher and psychophysicist Dr. Howard Moskowitz’s search for the perfect spaghetti sauce led to a significant discovery: Rather than one best sauce, people believed there were many best sauces. This seemingly simple, but revolutionary, idea caused the food industry to begin addressing consumers’ desire for diverse options.
Next time you’re in the grocery store, count the number of different cereals. Better yet, look at the types and varieties of yogurt. Who knew there was a demand for so many different yogurts?
With so many options, how do you discern the best yogurt? The best movie? The best school to attend? The best place to live?
Choice is a blessing and a curse because we have the freedom and the responsibility to make informed decisions. And with the advent and assistance of social media, this has become even harder as the factors we use to make our choices have multiplied exponentially.
Before my recent trip to Mumbai (Bombay to many natives), I received a wonderful piece of advice: “Simply experience India without critique or judgment.”
However, this is easier heard than practiced.
On my flight, I was inundated with promotions for this movie or that TV show, this amazing resort and that important historical site. And — of course — I had tour guides such as Frommer’s and DK Eyewitness, each with its own must-see and must-do recommendations.
As you can imagine, the sights and sounds are plentiful in a city of nearly 20 million people living on a 27-square-mile island.
So here I am, in a city of millions, wondering where to eat and what to do. Where to begin? Then I remembered: there is no best, only bests. So much for the superlative; all I could do was dive in and embrace my new experiences.
Rather than feel overwhelmed by our choices, we should embrace the multitude of ways we can express our individual selves. And, when given an opportunity to share your thoughts with someone — whether critiquing an idea or suggesting a restaurant — remember that your best is a vital part of a rich tapestry of bests.