MIND AND MATTER: How to avoid complacency

Bryan Kerns

Complacency. Dictionary.com defines it as “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.” 

It’s an easy thing to fall into. Surely, each of us has at some point or another been complacent in a given situation. It could be with a class, a job, a relationship or even with yourself. It’s also possible that the danger or defect never manifested itself in the way that dictionary.com would have you believe. 

That definition notwithstanding, complacency is easy to achieve — perhaps too easy. It’s also a great state to be in, for as long as you can be. The problems come when one is jolted out of complacency and made to take account of what’s been going on. 

It strikes swiftly, and in most cases, one doesn’t realize one’s complacency until having been ejected from it. There’s a simple solution to the battles of complacency: to be present at all times. Now, the cynics among you may say that it’s pretty darn obvious that one is present at all times. What I mean to say is that mere physical presence is not enough. One needs to be mentally and emotionally present as much as possible.

Put off the worries of tomorrow for tomorrow and live in the day that you’re in. It’s easy to dismiss such clichéd language as trite self-help advice. In being present, you can fully realize what it means to be you without the constraints that our society places on us. It staves off complacency and the dangers with growing too accustomed to your reality, which can be stripped away from you at any moment. 

One of the memorials on campus, outside of Old Falvey, commemorates a Villanova student, named Joe Hauck who passed away in 1996. The quote on the memorial is a saying that he would often employ: “Good morning, God, and thank you for the gift of today.” That is the embodiment of being present and deflecting the entreaties of complacency. We live in a time and place that all too readily rewards complacency. The key is to be countercultural and shove that complacency away so that every morning, you’re thankful for the gift of today. 

In doing so, your appreciation for the present can grow along with your own self-knowledge, which can only yield remarkable dividends. Why be complacent when you can live? Who would even think of choosing the former? 

Bryan Kerns is a senior honors and humanities major from Drexel Hill, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]