With a 96% vote, relaxation wins the Hypotheticals in the Morning vote! There were quite a few voters who had a couple points to make: 1) Pleasure would be the original choice, but on closer thought, that pleasure would eventually become a numbed sensation (like eating your favorite ice cream every night, instead of leaving it as a special treat), so the fall-back option would be relaxation; and 2) Relaxation actually combines the feeling of pleasure and relief, just more subtly; so, in a way, choosing relaxation is choosing all three options at once.
The question now is what to do with this information? Well, I thought I’d expand on the idea of relaxation. Thinking about how to do this, I started thinking about my question on trust and I realized that these two states are paralleled. Let’s first look at the definition of relaxation.
relax: to make or become less tight, severe, or strict; to relieve from tension or strain; to take one’s ease, rest [American Heritage Dictionary]
I sat staring at this definition for a while, trying to figure out why I liked it so much, and then I realized something. All of the symptoms (for lack of a better word) used in this definition are inherently neutral symptoms. Being ‘tight,’ ‘severe,’ ‘strict,’ ‘tense,’ or ‘strained,’ although usually associated as bad traits, are usually influenced by either good or bad circumstances. They are natural symptoms of the human condition, brought about by both good and evil conditions. One could be stressed over planning a wedding, losing a loved one, taking on extra responsibility at work, or losing a job. The tensions of human life are intrinsic to the daily conflict between good and evil which we, as human beings, must endure every day.
Relaxation, therefore, can be seen as the moment when one escapes the conflict, if only for a moment, and recedes into a content state of being. There is nothing good happening, nothing bad happening, just the world happening on its own. It is a neutral state, a state of peace and calm. I know, I use those words a lot, but is it no wonder then that I instinctively chose relaxation first?
It could be argued that relaxation causes a person to be happy (you know when you sit in the sun on a hammock and just naturally smile at the world?). To this, I argue two points. First, contentedness does not necessarily equal happiness, but more to general satisfaction in the state of doing nothing. My support is my second point, that if we are to define the state of relaxation as a state of happiness, we must also acknowledge that this state also causes negative or evil repercussions. Relaxation brings a person to state of doing nothing, causing no stress to one’s self in an order to alleviate the stress brought on by the world. While this feeling may make us happy, we could also be said to be lazy in doing nothing, accomplishing nothing for the betterment of the world around us. In this way, the positives and negatives (personal happiness and laziness respectively) negate each other, once again bringing us back to a state of neutrality.
As always, your thoughts are welcome. I would like to ask that this not become a religious conversation. The post on trust was not intended as a religious topic, and I’d like this post to stay specifically on the topic at hand. Have at it! 🙂