In your previous searches for a weight loss solution, have you found just one option that worked for you and stuck with it? Your focus most likely quickly shifted to something new that caught your eye. Or, in researching, you found several more options to consider, and the quantity of information you found completely stalled your search.
Throughout modern times, especially in the internet age, the quick fixes, superfoods, trends, and our accessibility to them have increased beyond comprehension. There are seemingly infinite articles and products that appear on a daily basis that promise a quick change to our life.
As the information increases, so does our desire to stay on top of new information. However, the wealth of information actually hurts our success and overall happiness rather than helps it.
Researchers call this “information overload” and have been studying the effects that a high volume of information has on decision making and satisfaction. What they’ve found is that the more choices we have, the less confident we are in our decision. This information, and analyzing the infinite information, adds stress and indecision to our lives, rather than helping us move forward and improve.
There are numerous studies proving how information affects our decision making and well-being. An interesting analysis of several studies was conducted by Professor Kazi Mostak Gausul Hoq, at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh. He published a comprehensive discussion of research from the last fifty years and all of the different ways that information overload affects our lives.
Hoq, citing a report from the US Government dating all the way back to 1963, says that “information explosion” has produced such a great volume of material that we are left with an inability to decipher irrelevant or unimportant information.
If this was true back in 1963, just imagine what we’re dealing with now with the internet!
As we race through websites, friends’ opinions on social media, or Amazon’s endless supply of goodies, we rarely stop to consider the source, quality, and truthfulness of the information we’re consuming.
Do you ever feel like you’re in a fog after a long day sorting through work emails or personal research into a product or trend? Hoq says that such a gluttony of information causes brain freeze and fatigue.
The result? We now have more information available to us than ever before, and yet we know less!
Your brain reaches a threshold of information absorption and, once reached, can no longer sort through or form opinions about information. So, in the long run, you’ve spent time reading and reflecting, but have no new opinion or true improvement than before you started.
Hoq argues that all of our long-range thinking stops because of the availability of information.
With the wealth of knowledge available to us, we lose sight of reflection and our patience and our timeframe for receiving good information have shrunk. Rather than introspection and critical thinking, we simply wait, maybe just minutes, for new information to prove or negate what we’ve found, rather than forming a gut opinion on it.
Anxiety may be the biggest piece of this information overload. As emotional eaters, we are constantly stressed over what is right, what is wrong, and what will quickly fix us.
And guess what? By seeking out new information daily, hourly, or with real-time updates, we’re contributing to our anxiety and general unhappiness.
Hoq says that with this “information explosion” it leads us to constantly think of the past and the future, rather than the present.
After reviewing just a few of these effects, can you imagine how information is working against you?
All of these studies reviewed by Hoq found the same things; being given a lot of choices is appealing to people. However, the more choices there are, the more debilitating or regretful we are over those choices. It also leaves you feeling worse off than before because you feel like you made the wrong decision.
So how do we move forward?
- Determine how much information you really need to find an answer to your problem
- Pinpoint trusted and useful sources
- Limit your time spent on reading and analyzing information
One of the biggest recommendations, I believe, is to trust your gut. Often times we seek out information to prove what we’re already confident about, yet lose our way with too much information. We all have an internal compass that helps guide us and we have forgotten how to listen to it!