Complacency vs. ambition

Published 12:34 pm Friday, March 28, 2014

Before I start, let me loosely define complacency as “a sense of satisfaction in things that are certain”; then I’ll assume its antonym is ambition, which I’ll define as “a sense of hope in things that are uncertain.”

Complacency is a disease. It sneaks in quietly like a wolf disguised as a sheep.

I’m not the type to hesitate when telling you to find happiness in what you have — in things that are concrete. Restlessness in figuring out what you want can be wearying. My motto — quieten your longings because reaching beyond your means is a distraction from the pursuit of things far more important. Right, but it’s not that simple, is it?

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There’s an art to being complacent, a delicate balance between knowing what you have is enough and knowing there’s room for improvement.

To claim improvement isn’t needed is the same as shutting yourself off from an ever-moving world and expecting it to lag behind as well.

If you’re familiar with AMC’s Mad Men, you may already know the words of Trudy Campbell, “Dissatisfaction is a symptom of ambition. It’s the coal that fuels the fire.”

Dissatisfaction, in all of its negativity, is the catalyst that propels us into motion and drives us into action — a positive change in an isolated and motionless society.

I believe this… to an extent.

I also believe that dissatisfaction is widely used as a mask (more like a suit of armor) perfectly positioned to protect its wearer from letting anyone or anything disappoint them.  (Although, I hope this is less universal than it seems.)

What I do know is that stagnant water gathers the most deadly bacteria; and the crippling part of complacency is that, if you’re not careful, it easily blurs into stagnancy.

To preserve our future, no matter whether we choose to be complacent or ambitious, we have to keep setting goals, keep evaluating ourselves, and keep moving forward — always.