Rohit's Realm

// / archive / 2006 / 03 / 01 / contentment-and-complacency

March 01, 2006

Contentment and Complacency

Pretty windy out tonight, isn't it? That's how it started, with an innocuous question from one stranger to another, brought together by neither will nor inclination, but rather by chance, fate, and perhaps, adverse weather. Hardly a question with significant philosophical implications, this one decidely forgettable interaction would lead me to one of my most introspective and contemplative states of mind in recent memory.

The conversation began with the aforementioned question, as I stumbled through the door of the California Pizza Kitchen in downtown Salt Lake City and fought awkwardly with the heavy gust of wind that would have rather the door remained open. The young woman asking the question next to the podium tried to contain her amusement as I attempted to gain control of my unruly, wind-displaced hair and asked the greeter to place a take-out order. As I waited for my food, the conversation meandered from the awful weather to my occupation to hers -- a college sophomore -- and finally, to the notion of happiness. You must be really happy, huh?

Happy? Ew! I certainly hope not! What do you mean? Happy?

Well, you went to a great school, have a good job, and get to travel a lot. I'd be happy if I was you.

I guess I never thought about it that way. And quite frankly, I had not. Am I happy? Am I sad? Am I depressed? Am I distressed? Who gives a shit? Not me, that's for certain. I've got better things to do with my time then play psychiatrist for myself; why self-diagnose when you can self-medicate? Wait. Nevermind. Not in-touch with my emotions? Please. We've never even met.

Thinking about happiness, or more appropriately, contentment more explicitly as I walked back to my hotel, I began to wonder whether I really was content. The CPK girl was right -- I do have every reason to be contented. Life is good. I can't complain. I even venture as much whenever anyone asks me how I am doing. But, just because I can't complain, does that automatically imply I'm contented? Doesn't that mean I am so satisfied with my life that I wouldn't seek to change it? Doesn't that mean that I'm advocating the status quo? Doesn't that mean I've become complacent?

What's the difference between contentment and complacence? Aren't they simply two sides of the same ugly coin, with the only difference being your perceived outlook on life? And if complacency is unequivocally a Bad Thing™, invoking mental images of stagnation, apathy, and failure, how can contentment be viewed as anything less, no matter how rose-tinted your glasses.

For me, contentment and complacency are one and the same. I have always counted on a definite lack of both to motivate me through my most challenging endeavors, both personal and professional. A desire to gain, to achieve, to understand, to conquer -- these are my driving forces, the source of my personal determination. So am I happy? Am I satisfied? Am I content? Hell no! There is too much in this world to do -- too much to gain; to achieve; to understand; to conquer. I don't have time to be complacent, nor content.

Well, when does it end? When is it enough? When is it acceptable to stop and simply enjoy the status quo? Hopefully never. Complacence is never an option. Neither is contentment. I can't think of anything more pathetic in this world -- or worthless, for that matter -- than a person with no goals, no dreams, no motivation, no hope. Why even bother to live on? It's not like you'd be missing anything. I know the day I feel satisfied; feel contented; feel satiated, is the day I'll be finished. And a sad day it will be, too. It'll be the last day of my life -- the only one that matters, anyway.

Are you happy? Content? Satisfied? Satiated? Check your vitals -- you just might be dead.


What if you're content while seeking change? That's me. Changing it up constantly, never being complacent, that keeps me happy---I dare say.

Add Comment





* required field

E-mail addresses will never be displayed. The following HTML tags are allowed:
a abbr acronym address big blockquote br cite del em li ol p pre q small strong sub sup ul