Thursday, March 25, 2010

Moderation... Not Mediocrity

Over the course of the day's conversations two things have come to my mind, moderation and mediocrity. Basically we promote moderation in our society and seek to not be mediocre. Further, moderation and mediocrity seem like simple concepts and I bet most any adult could give a reasonable definition for both. I would also bet that most adults are not very good at doing all things in moderation or avoiding mediocrity.

For the sake of being on the same page, the following are links to Merriam-Websters's Online Dictionary results for moderation and mediocre:

First I will examine moderation in our society and culture. The phrase most people have heard is "moderation in all things." That phrase actually dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, but it has persisted into our day. Often the concept of moderation is applied to food and drink. Basically it is a good idea to be careful of how much we eat and drink. Excessive eating will make a person overweight, and excessive drinking (or other types of drugs) have obvious consequences as well. Spending is another area of our lives that we strive to moderate. I think we all could have benefited if less people had been eager to take on mortgages that in reality they could not afford in the last decade. According to MSN the average American household carried $8000 in credit card debt alone in 2004. Some other things many people tend to struggle to moderate are sleeping, exercise, idle activities, relationships, and more.

Avoiding mediocrity has no catchy or memorable phrase like moderation, but who really strives for average? In our culture there is a premium set on standing out, excelling, and being the best. Also we are constantly bombarded by messages from the media, advertisements, and family members that push us into that frame of mind as well. The desire for excellence may even just be human nature.

So how can we cohesively mesh moderation and avoiding mediocrity? That is not so simple. I propose we add a few new concepts to solve this problem; understanding, acceptance, and wisdom.

First and foremost understand that neither you nor anyone else on the planet is perfect. No one can moderate everything all the time, and no one can be the best all the time. Understand that happiness is not tied to success. Having a good understanding of any given situation will usually lead to the best results.

Accept the reality of your situation. I will almost certainly not get beamed aboard the starship Enterprise no matter how much I want that, and I have come to terms with that reality. That is kind of an absurd example but I hope you know what I mean.

Finally be wise. Its easy to be moderate when you take a step back and look at the situation from an outsider's perspective. For example, today at lunch I could have eaten a whole pizza. I certainly had the capacity and the desire, but I stopped eating long enough to think about how much I had already eaten and decided that just because the pizza tasted good and I had the room wasn't a good enough reason to keep eating.

I hope my thoughts on moderation and mediocrity will help keep life in perspective for you.

-Just Ben Shewell

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