Too much choice?

This engrossing article about the paralyzing powers of choice in the March 1st New Yorker came at a propitious time in my life. Actually, it's a book review of The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz rather than an article, but in this day and age, rare is the book review that doesn't aspire to be more than a review of the book itself.
The article discusses how unlimited choice can cause human suffering, and how people are not the rational utility maximizers that economists like to use in their theoretic models but rather satisficers who prefer "good enough" because it's a lot less stressful to determine "good enough" than maximum utility. The article also introduced the phenomenon named the hedonic treadmill. I can't wait to drop that one casually into conversation.
Without having read the book, I tend to agree. I've been paralyzed by a certain abundance of choice myself, and I've certainly been guilty of yearning to limit my choices to avoid having to choose ("if I just got married and had kids, I'd be locked in for the next X years of my life"). It has always felt cowardly and even unhealthy to do so, but perhaps it's a natural human instinct. Related to this is the belief, perhaps unique to my generation, that our lives can and must be qualitatively and quanititatively happier than those of our parents. Together these forces can lead to an emasculating early-thirties malaise that is rather unglamorous as far as the pantheon of malaises go, especially as compared to war, starvation, and the Bubonic Plague.
The article also reminded me that happiness is a science now, complete with its own journal. There's even a World Database of Happiness.
Perusing some of the sample articles, you'll find mentions of axioms such as the consumer's dilemma:

  • It is psychologically unhealthy and morally wrong to be pre-occupied with money and materialism.

  • Consuming is nonetheless attractive. It certainly seems as if more money and more of what money can buy would make life better.

  • In order to be part of society, we simply must have commerce with money and possessions.

An abstract of an article titled Hedonism and Happiness:
"At the national level average happiness is correlated with moral acceptance of pleasure and with active leisure. At the individual level it is similarly linked with hedonistic attitudes and also correlated with hedonistic behaviours such as frequent sex and use of stimulants. In most cases the pattern is linearly positive. The relation between happiness and consumption of stimulants follows an inverted U-curve, spoilsports and guzzlers are less happy than modest consumers.
Yet, these data cannot settle the issue, since the observed relations may be spurious or due to the effects of happiness on hedonism rather than the reverse. Even if we can prove a positive effect of (mild) hedonism on happiness, there is still the question of how that gains balances against a possible loss of health. A solution is to assess the effect of hedonistic living on the number of years lived happily."
I couldn't find any articles correlating masochism and being a Cubs fan.