Maximize or Satisfy

When I was shopping for engagement rings, I spent many hours looking for exactly the right diamond. I was plagued by the thought, What if I miss the best one?

According to economic psychologist Barry Schwartz, my chronic indecision indicates that I am what he calls a “maximizer,” in contrast to a “satisficer.” A satisficer makes choices based on whether something is adequate for their needs. Maximizers? We have a need to always make the best choice (guilty!). The potential outcome of our indecision in the face of many choices? Anxiety, depression, and discontent. In fact, sociologists have coined another phrase for this phenomenon: fear of missing out.

We won’t find the words maximizer or satisficer in Scripture, of course. But we do find a similar idea. In 1 Timothy, Paul challenged Timothy to find value in God rather than the things of this world. The world’s promises of fulfillment can never fully deliver. Paul wanted Timothy to instead root his identity in God: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (6:6). Paul sounds like a satisficer when he adds, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (v. 8).

When I fixate on the myriad ways the world promises fulfillment, I usually end up restless and unsatisfied. But when I focus on God and relinquish my compulsive urge to maximize, my soul moves toward genuine contentment and rest.     

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

One thought on “Maximize or Satisfy

  1. That makes many of us I definitely am a maximiser when it comes to shopping! Just last week I couldn’t decide on what fragrance to buy there’s just too many to chose from 🙂

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