Henry: Life is worth more than living in a complacent mindset

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Collegian | Ava Kerzic

Brendan Henry, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Complacency sucks. It creeps up on you right after you say you are going to make a change, and then before you know it, nothing changes. You get stuck in a situation that you and only you can get yourself out of, but it is simply easier to remain as is. 

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What is complacency? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, complacency is “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” Essentially, this means you are comfortable even when things are not necessarily great.

We as humans tend to swarm to comfort like moths to a light. People find comfort in things built into their routine to the point of the routine becoming a comfort itself. Over time, people can get unhappy with something in their routine but choose not to change it because of the comfort the routine provides, and then the blinders go up. 

The problem lies in not catching the warning signs early enough to stop the situation from becoming routine. Someone may start a job and learn the ins and outs, get proficient and then identify issues within their workplace and start thinking about moving on. The problem is they are comfortable with their knowledge and proficiency, and that leads to them staying even if they are not happy. 

Complacency is not limited to this example. It could happen in every aspect of life: Relationships, meal choices, workouts and driving that car that barely gets you from one place to another can all fall into the complacency category, and you might not even realize it until it is too late. 

“The best solution is to avoid complacency completely by removing yourself from situations that fail to meet your own personal standards of happiness.”

Is it ever too late, though? All you have to do is quit that job, end that relationship, choose healthier meal options, add another mile to your run and dump that old hunk of junk that burns a massive hole in the ozone after two miles of driving. These things are achievable yet much easier to think about than to actually put into action. 

You can get out of that complacency rut. Getting out of your own routine can only start with you. 

Tyler Cowen, a professor at George Mason University, gave some good advice on getting away from complacent tendencies.

Cowen emphasized the importance of getting out of your bubble, taking risks, asking tough questions even in the face of rejection and never stopping the drive to learn. If you were to apply these to your daily life, chances are you would avoid finding yourself in a complacent mindset. 

Again, this is all much easier said than done. Complacency can dominate the mind to the point where you are working at a factory you have hated for 20 years. The best solution is to avoid complacency completely by removing yourself from situations that fail to meet your own personal standards of happiness. 

It happens to all of us. I have worked a job I did not like way longer than I should have, endured bad relationships and my diet is still pretty bad, even though I would like to eat healthier. Making those changes is very difficult, but it makes a world of difference when you do. 

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Stop being complacent. It is not worth it, and you are the only one with the power to change it.

Reach Brendan Henry at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BrendanHenryRMC.