I appreciation simple encouragement. I live on a steady diet of peer reviewed psychological research. But sometimes motivational impact drowns with all the necessary qualifiers. Often the simple thought, the unencumbered statement of peace, joy or encouragement, we seek—or even need. We benefit from the forward encouraging push, giving us strength and confidence to face and conquer fearsome obstacles in our path. The simplicity tames the unapproachableness of complexity and allows focus to be concentrated on a few key areas.
Social mediums, such as facebook, are well-suited for the short and sweet boosts of a quote or inspirational thought. We are more apt to accept simplicity over the more weighted matters of understanding. As Francis Bacon suggested, the river of general acceptance is more likely to carry those things which are “light and swollen” and “drowns things weighty and solid.”
Scattered throughout social media is a vast selection of sites dedicated to well-being; many moderators endlessly posting shots boosting motivation catering to emotional whims while largely ignoring scientific evidence. The popularity of this call to well-being is evident. Mega churches, such as Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church, prey upon the need for the simple and hope for a glorious future. Proclamations about life, love and success fly through cyber space, jumping from computer to computer, and mind to mind. The modern speed of thought distribution continues to accelerate. The consequences of unfettered distribution of untested “truths” has yet to be realized.
The pockets of human history are bursting with examples of the masses demonstrating fondness for the simple and familiar while rejecting the complex and novel. Many of the great minds of the past courageously suffered rejection and even death for challenging generally accepted beliefs. In my opinion, complex realities will never be fully embraced. Complexities demand too much effort to distribute, money and fame usually fail to abundantly reward those embracing difficult to understand and difficult to integrate concepts. Complexity will always struggle to compete the oversimplified.
We may find momentary relief with the simplified encouragements, such as “Life is meant to enjoyed;” but the momentary boost must eventually be followed with more complexity, looking a little deeper into behavior, consequences, and current realities. Using an oversimplified explanation for life as justification for ill-conceived ideas can destroy relationships, careers and dreams. The appealing tugs of a phrase doesn’t make it true. Feeling good needs practical applications of doing good. We must follow through with the correct actions that will bring us to the desired destinations. A few examining questions often reveal the weaknesses behind comforting motivational statements such as, “life is meant to be enjoyed.” By asking:
Who meant for life to be enjoyed?
How is life to be enjoyed?
What if one person’s enjoyment causes suffering for someone else?
Is life to be enjoyed in every moment?
A child who does not enjoy school, should he/she drop out?
The underlying message to routinely incorporate enjoyment is appropriate and necessary; but without caution the message also justifies harmful behaviors, damaging relationships and destroying futures. We adopt many simplified statements that quietly influence behavior. Unknowingly they influence decisions, leading us down paths we would prefer to avoid.
We can still enjoy simple heart-warming messages, providing a few slivers of sunshine to the dull and bleak days of ordinary living. Messages cultivate minds with hope, preparing the heart to move forward. But the more powerful integration requires skepticism, acknowledging the limitations of the over-simplified, and painstakingly gathering knowledge and wisdom essential for growth. We must be vigilant not to forsake the greater complexities by neglecting the weightier matters of truth.