Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Complacency vs. Progress

  So, I think one of the great dividing questions of the personality of people is which they value more, which makes them happier: complacency, for lack of a better word, happiness with what you already have, and progress, the compulsion to strive for more than what you already own and are capable of. I've had conversations with friends about anything from architecture to politics to the inherent problems with humanity that reduced to this question. I personally find myself advocating the complacency side; as long as one knows that their life could be better, one can never be truly happy, because there is always a comparative better. My friend Jason is on the other side; he is only ever happy when he is actively bettering himself, actively working towards a better world. In fact, as he showed with his Miley Cyrus metaphor, he is often not even happy upon REACHING those goals; he just finds a new goal to aim for. Personally, I think that's one of the pitfalls of his philosophy; when you are working towards a goal, you can't be happy until you've reached it, and when you reach a goal, you can't be happy until you've reached the next goal. When you get to the top of one mountain, you can see the top of the next mountain.
  This is the reason I think pleasant lies are always a better option than honesty, which I'm convinced is not the best policy by a long shot. "Ignorance is bliss," as the saying goes. If I'm in a hopeless situation, and my ignorance of the situation I'm in depends on someone lying to me, I very much hope they indulge me and lie to me. On the other hand, I have friends who, upon being asked, "Would you rather believe in a lie and be happy or know the truth and be miserable?" actually answered truth. To me, that seems crazy. For me, happiness is the highest goal at all points, more so than truth. I mean, imagine I was in a loving, committed relationship and my partner cheated on me once, by mistake, and was never going to do it again. Some people would want to know because, they say, a successful relationship must be based on honesty, but I would rather never know. Or, in a more dramatic situation, imagine I was on a sinking ship, and no help was forthcoming. I would rather die believing that help was on its way and that everything would be okay than ever having to accept the truth, that I was about to die.
  This is not a debate on which we can come to a conclusion, but it's something to think about.

-Adarsh Nednur


  1. I don't understand why the two--complacency and progress--have to be mutually exclusive.

  2. Sorry it's taken so long to respond. When I say that the two are separate, I don't necessarily speak of the actions themselves, but the mindsets behind them. The mindset driving progress of necessity dictates that what we have isn't good enough and change must be made. The mindset driving complacency says that we are content with what we have and nothing more. I personally can't imagine why someone would think, "I'm completely content with what I have, but I'm gonna change things anyway." The one exception is Jason, who, rather than progress for the sake of reaching a new goal, which is what I was talking about, values progress for its own sake. That's the closest I've seen to the two being combined, since he's content as long as he is making some amount of progress. - Adarsh