Almost everyone seems to be searching for comfort, contentment and happiness in their lives, but when achieved, does it breed mediocrity, or perhaps something worse?
Many people would of heard the quote “Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters”. I can say from personal experience that when I have been the most content in life, I was also the least productive. In contrast, when I have been the most discontent in life I have been the most productive. When you’re discontent you work hard to achieve things, or to change things. If adversity doesn’t break you, it can make you better and more successful.
Prosperity or contentment won’t necessarily turn someone into a monster; however, it’s a time for mediocrity to breed. Mediocrity can often lead down the path to your dark side, to malevolence. When you’re content, you’re less likely to have the motivation to strive for something better, find a better job, educate yourself, or pursue something ambitious.
I have noticed in myself that when I am struggling in some way, discontent or distressed. This is when I work the hardest and become the most determined to change things or achieve something. The goal of this it seems is to reach contentment, or perhaps reach something greater. However, when I achieve some degree of contentment, it encourages laziness and mediocrity.
To those who may be struggling in some way, that are going through some form of adversity. Of course it depends on the individuals struggle, often however, going through adversity can be a blessing in disguise. Going through rough times can be a great motivator to do something productive, or to better yourself in some way, and generally to improve your current circumstances. There is a lot of truth to that great quote from Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”
It’s definitely not good to be stressed, discontent, and unhappy all of the time. However, being happy and content all the time brings its own problems, as already mentioned it can breed mediocrity, and perhaps worse. Too much positive emotion can also make people reckless and impulsive. It seems like way too much importance has been put on achieving happiness, when really the focus should be on balance. Manic depressives are a good example of the problems that unbalanced positive emotions can cause.
This belief for the pursuit of contentment, comfort, and happiness is partly the result of quick thinking, influenced by popular societal beliefs particularly in the western world. This belief is connected to social status, approval seeking, and the desire for conformity.
The pursuit of positive emotions and contentment seems rather short sighted and largely counterproductive. Mediocrity will inevitably lead to weakness and negativity. For evidence of this, all you have to do is look at the statistics of mental health problems in the western world, depression and anxiety disorders are on the increase, as well as other disorders.
The greater the pursuit for happiness and comfort, the more depressed the population becomes. Seeking balance, mental strength, meaning or purpose seems like a more productive and realistic, rather than idealistic pursuit.