Whenever my family attempts a major buying decision (TV, couch, computer, remodel, shed, dining table, etc) we’re inevitably confronted with a choice between two options:

  1. The perfect, more expensive, but out-of-stock option
  2. The less perfect, less expensive, in-stock option

This spins us out in a quandary of self-doubt. From the soul-seeking “Do we love it $700 more?”, to the hopefully naïve “What if they update it this year and it’s perfect?”, to the downright existential “Are we $700 more people?” We hem and haw, spinning around the issue like two black holes hoping to collide on a single opinion.

Almost always, we go with option two; the less perfect, less expensive, but in-stock option. Perhaps it’s us giving into impulsiveness, but there’s a small joy in walking away with a physical, tangible box or a tracking link instead of a lousy 12-digit order confirmation number. Even though we have enough datapoints to predict our behavior, we find ourselves in the same predicament over and over. Which path to take? Which path brings the most happiness? Which path is the secret to a happy lifestyle?

I know people who do the perfect, more expensive, but out-of-stock so they have to wait option and they seem happy with their perfect, expensive goods. But they must have a level of patience or perfection I do not. Did they perform better at the marshmallow experiment? Not that we’re unhappy with our on-time, lower grade wares. But I wonder what would happen if we were the people who went all out, exhausted the budget, and then waited weeks or months for the Platonic ideal to arrive. Eight more gigabytes. Eight more horsepower. Eight more threads per inch. Eight more florps. It must be worth it. It must be.