463 - Upon reflection

At this time of the year, with the (somewhat over-rated) New Year upon us, trying to find some value in life is at the forefront of minds, especially, I presume, if new year’s resolutions are being made. Here is a quote which I believe is generally applicable; it would also form a good starting point if you subscribe to making resolutions:

It is important for us to acknowledge that we’re prone to be conservative, and in turn surround ourselves with individuals who will help break down our conservatism.

(Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo)

I interpret the quote to mean we should to surround ourselves with a wide variety of people, who will challenge our conformity, essential if one is to progress above a dull, almost automatous, existence. The most important people in my life are those who encourage me to think in new ways and take on challenges outside my comfort zone — that is, to rephrase, those who challenge my conservatism.

Having other people around to challenge one’s preconceptions — of a problem, a social boundary or anything else —, is to have people who will push you towards new experiences. This fact reinforces the importance of meeting new people: they will have different perspectives and experiences, and can therefore encourage you to think in new ways.

Without such people it is simple, and perhaps inevitable, to slip into a status quo, an accustomed and comfortable level that one fails to see beyond. It is a lot to expect a person alone to maintain the impetus needed to continually push themselves to new things; we are by nature social creatures — witness all the social mechanisms evolution has endowed us with — and part of this social aspect is the new perspectives social interactions bring us. As well as being beneficial to the individual, differing perspectives and ideas are undoubtedly evolutionarily beneficial too, it would seem.

Whilst a status quo state tends to engender a sense of comfort, of being cocooned within a protective shell, it will equally tend towards a state of dissatisfaction, a nagging feeling that the most isn’t being made of life. Seeking new challenges and the rewards which this brings are prominent in making us feel that we are making the most of our lives. This may entail difficulty and pain; however, the rewards are worthwhile.

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