Seems like most of my best writing goes to the 30×500 Alumni mailing list these days. Including this little bit below.

One of my brilliant (and particularly sesquipedalian) students was talking about the way that pedestrian thinking tends to exert inexorable drag on humanity:

Wordy Student: Just a zooming out sub specie aeternitatis observation: certain things feel like defying gravity. Ben Franklin’s homilies, Dale Carnegie, Kathy Sierra: If not for reminders and exhortations from the likes of them, people drift into a solipsistic shithole. I can’t imagine this to be the default setting — must be the times.

I used to think that way, too, but I don’t any more.

Is it the times? Nah.

It is the default setting… and it’s not really a bad thing. Think about it:

We are animals who think. We evolved to achieve certain biological goals. Most people don’t need to think big thoughts to survive and reproduce… more importantly, you don’t even need to have big goals / think big thoughts to be a good person, a loving friend and family member, a valuable member of the community.

While some of us love to think big thoughts and do big things, it is the exception and if we’re not careful, it can come at a cost to those other good, valuable, desirable things.

(Which, of course, is a huge reason why I’m a proponent of slow, bootstrapped, ownership- and value-based businesses: they don’t put your biz growth in conflict with your users or your family or your ethics.)

Sometimes I think we smartypantses walk around expecting to be given a delicious cookie by The Universe as reward for thinking deep thoughts and soaring above the teeming masses on fluffy intellectual wings.

There’s no point in deep thinking, though, if it isn’t its own reward, if it isn’t helping us & those we love to be happier.

Maybe it’s better to be Socrates, dissatisfied, than a happy pig in shit, but when it comes to being Smartypants, dissatisfied, as opposed to Perspective Girl, satisfied? I don’t buy it, Mr. Mill.

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  1. WM

    First: we are rather animals who plan – quite a lot of animals can think. Second: happy pigs knows nothing about Socrates and his situation, and Socrates will never feel pure joy of being happy pig. Third: it’s basically from Mill’s ethic, no from Mill’s political conceptions, because on this level (politics==economics) as I can say from reading your texts you are very-very “millian”:). Conclusions – we are different, we have different points of view and different paths of happiness, but understanding these differences is what makes us better humans. Yes, it’s trivial :).

    BTW I really enjoy your blog and Tweets (and your ‘practical and utilitarian’ point of view, specially on unicorns and selling:)) – what of course dosen’t mean, that I always agree with you :).


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