Whatever… when choices become a modernist’s dilemma

I recently had my dad try the Whatever can drinks while having lunch at a food court in Clementi. This video is his review of the concept drink, which is really a random drink in a can.

Whatever would feature a random range of non-carbonated drinks, while Anything would be a carbonated range. The ad campaigns ranged from controversial bus stop ads to funny television commercials (see commercials for Anything and Whatever).

While we might laugh at the idea of it and wonder how long before the idea would fade (or even get picked up by other drink manufacturers such as F&N), it’s stuff like these that show us how having too many choices can sometimes be more trouble than its worth.

Last year, ZeFrank introduced this idea in his show where he reviewed a book by psychologist Dan Gilbert called Stumbling on Happiness. In it, Dan talks about stuff that really makes an impact on your long-term happiness. Apparently it’s not the major stuff, but the small things in life which matter most. Choices, in fact, are things that affect us constantly.

Citing ZeFrank’s show transcript:
We live in a society that places a high value on being able to make choices. All the different kinds of tomato sauce… those badass buffets at Friday’s… and no arranged marriages.

We agonize about the choices we make and simultaneously hold on to the ability to choose for as long as possible. Things on “final sale” or “the point of no return” kind of freak us out.

But Gilbert suggests that we’re pretty damn bad at predicting the degree to which things will make us happy.

Those shoes, that girl, that job. It’ll make you happy, but probably not as happy as you think.

But the reverse is also true! The things you worry are going to devastate you aren’t going to be that bad. Those shoes, that girl, that job. The actual decision that you make doesn’t really matter to the degree that you think it does.

But the stress and anxiety that you feel when you think that you have a choice does matter. It makes you less happy.

It appears that you’re best at getting back to your baseline happiness when you’re stuck in a given circumstance. The perception of having a choice interferes with that synthesized happiness.

So in the long run, you’ll more likely be happy with that pair of shoes you got stuck with in a final sale than you will be with that pair of shoes that you have thirty days to exchange.

It seems like the best thing that you can do is just keep moving forward. Make a choice, and stick with it. Don’t keep the other catalogues around after you buy that car. And toss the receipt on those pair of shoes.

In the long run, it’ll work out.

Don’t get it? Maybe you need to watch ZeFrank explain it in person…

9 thoughts on “Whatever… when choices become a modernist’s dilemma

  1. Gosh your dad has a natural flair! I am very intruiged by his facial expressions while drinking that ‘whatever’ drink. And he is wise too, to point out that the drink is good for indecisive people.

    I remember reading a book about making choices, parallel to the exerpt above. I dont remember whom it written by though. Perhaps it was Dan Gilbert himself. But in essense, the author wrote that we need to be happy with the choices that we made, knowing that we are the one who chose that path.

    Fantastic read.

  2. @marina: Thanks for the kind words. My dad is an artist, designer, actor, teacher, all rolled into one. Guess that’s where I get inspiration from. It’d be good for us to re-visit Dan Gilbert’s book, especially in this day and age. 🙂

  3. @Kevin, your dad is videogenic, feel easy and very open in front of the camera. I wish my dad were like that. 🙂 Anyway, very innovative drink concept indeed. I hope they make it to the states soon.

  4. That’s cool – a review of whatever. Should have bought it from 7 Eleven though – because the coffee shop charges for the ice, the cup, etc…

    Since it’s a random drink, what if anything and whatever includes rat poison?

    Choice. Make it and don’t look back. By resenting that choice, we’ll be overcome with nauseous regret. That nausea would outweigh the choice eventually, that’s how I see it.

  5. Well, I don’t particularly in favor of the drink, but one of my friend told me this drink is a purely advertising firm’s marketing strategy. They want to build a profile through the drink.

    And I find that particular Ze Frank show extremely interesting, Kevin, could you share with us more of the content of the book?

    Recently the 4-hour work week book did get me to think about my life, and the definition of a successful life.

  6. It is an interesting way to sell drinks and probably catches a lot more consumer attention than a normal drink launch. I wonder though how long the novelty will last….

    Do see my own analysis of the marketing strategies of Anything and Whatever.

  7. @DT: Word.

    @Peter Du: I share snippets of info. Someone else needs to do a book review for us 😛

    @Walter: I read it and I think it’s an idea any drink company can replicate. Might be trendworthy 🙂

  8. I mean this in the nicest possible way — your dad cracks me up! LOL. Hey, I’m not making fun of him. I’m grinning as I watch this ‘cos (1) it’s cool your dad willingly appears on your video and isn’t camera shy, (2) he takes the taste-test so seriously, (3) he even reviews it like he does it for a living. I loved your dad’s quote near the end, when you asked “So do you think it’s a good idea?” and he says nonchalantly, “Yah. For those who cannot make up their mind.” Wahahaha. Sounds like a tagline for the drink maker.

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