“The Happiness Lab” https://www.happinesslab.fm/ is my go-to podcast when I’m not sure what I want to listen to, and I don’t feel like choosing. It’s still a choice, but instead of choosing between the dozens of podcasts I already have on my rotation, I only have to decide between:
A) the podcast about happiness; and B) everything else. That decision pretty much makes itself.
Today’s episode was titled “Choice Overload.” Reading through the description, I thought I already agreed with the premise that avoiding decision fatigue increases happiness, but I wanted to hear someone else’s take on it.
As I was listening, I was playing Hearthstone on my iPad, and I gradually noticed the irony of it. Here I’m thinking about the value of reducing decision-fatigue, while I’m playing a game that requires me to make many decisions every turn, and the more I progress, the more difficult the decisions get.
I’ve made a point of simplifying my life (and presumably making myself happier) by reducing decision fatigue. For example:
- I’ve reduced my wardrobe choices by getting rid of everything that didn’t quite fit right, or was too much work to maintain. Now most of what’s in my wardrobe are clothes I know I like to wear every day (and the t-shirts I’ve borrowed from my teenager);
- I work out with a trainer at my gym on the same days every week – no more slacking on fitness because I don’t want to decide when to go to the gym, or what exercises to do when I get there. If I’m at the gym, I know it must be Tuesday or Friday, and I’m doing whatever exercises my trainer tells me to do – even the ones I don’t like; and
- I’ve even started doing most of my grocery shopping online and having them delivered, so I don’t have to face all those seemingly infinite choices at the grocery store – including deciding whether something I want to buy is worth the effort of carrying 3 blocks home and up 6 flights of stairs.
If I’m always thinking about ways to reduce decision-fatigue, why am I choosing to play a game that’s all about making decisions? Am I drawn to games like this because subconsciously I know they help me improve important skills? After all, there are only so many ways to simplify – I still have to make decisions about all kinds of other things every day, and getting better at that would be valuable.
Does that make Hearthstone an “educational game?” Apparently it is for me. Isn’t that the best kind of education – the kind where you’re just having fun, and you’re not even aware that you’re being educated?