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this and that

I heard something on the radio this morning, a story I don't remember any details about, but it used both the words "contentment" and "complacency," and since then, I've been asking everyone (well, three people):

How do you tell the difference between contentment and complacency?

I'm not asking for the dictionary definitions of them--I know what they both mean--but both from the inside (in other words, if it's yourself and your feelings you're talking about) and from the outside (if you're talking about other people and your perceptions of them), how do you know the difference?

In other news, I made a tumblr for quotes from Sphene in Ancillary Mercy. I haven't yet filled it up with all the quotes, but I've got a good bunch. It's at Ancillary Sphene. I hope to make a picture, too, of Sphene and Translator Zeiat at their game.

In other, other news, if it's nighttime where you are (as it is for me) and not overcast, you can take a look at the moon and all its craters and mountains in high relief, because the sun is shining on it slantwise. I got the idea to look from a two-days-ago broadcast of Strange Universe.

All right then... see you around the Internet.


Comments

( 63 comments — Leave a comment )
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xjenavivex
Nov. 18th, 2015 12:51 am (UTC)
The moon is beautiful tonight. I'm thinking about your question. Do you think control over circumstances factors in? Is it sometimes a matter of acceptance? Can it be a matter of inaction equals complacency when you could change something but don't make the effort?
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 01:13 am (UTC)
Wakanomori said the same thing about not changing something when you could/should.

I don't know! I'm genuinely curious about everyone's answers. I think what got me thinking about it was wondering whether one can slip unbeknownst from contentment into complacency, and then that got me wondering exactly what things were added to or subtracted from complacency that made it a tarnished thing.

I think maybe my first gut reaction is that complacency has a sense of self-satisfaction about it whereas maybe contentment doesn't? Like maybe there's satisfaction in contentment, but not self-satisfaction?

Not sure though.
(no subject) - wuweibaby - Nov. 18th, 2015 01:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 05:04 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 05:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xjenavivex - Nov. 25th, 2015 02:55 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - asakiyume - Dec. 2nd, 2015 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
egg_shell
Nov. 18th, 2015 01:14 am (UTC)
The moon - can't see it tonight because our sky is overcast here but I will check it out the first chance I get during the first quarter or the 3rd quarter. That is so true (about it appearing flat during the full moon phase) and it should be much more 3-d to see it "side-lit". Thanks!
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 01:15 am (UTC)
Very welcome! I checked it out yesterday and was impressed by the sharp shadows.
khiemtran
Nov. 18th, 2015 01:52 am (UTC)
Usually, when you look at the moon , it's actually upside down compared with what I see... But, as luck would have it, I'm in California at the moment and the moon is around the "wrong" way.
amaebi
Nov. 18th, 2015 03:14 am (UTC)
Does it make you feel all upside-down?
(no subject) - khiemtran - Nov. 18th, 2015 04:41 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 04:59 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 04:08 am (UTC) - Expand
oiktirmos
Nov. 18th, 2015 02:10 am (UTC)
I think of complacency as not seeing what is outside of oneself and having peace, a peace derived from not seeing, and contentment as seeing what is outside of oneself and yet having peace, a peace in spite of seeing.
roseneko
Nov. 18th, 2015 03:01 am (UTC)
This is a beautiful articulation of an interesting differentiation.
(no subject) - roseneko - Nov. 18th, 2015 03:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 04:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 04:36 am (UTC) - Expand
sovay
Nov. 18th, 2015 02:28 am (UTC)
How do you tell the difference between contentment and complacency?

Complacency has an element of smugness to me; I associate it with the kind of comfort that is unwilling to risk itself. Contentment has an element of peace as well as satisfaction; it is not at anyone's expense.
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 04:37 am (UTC)
I absolutely associate complacency with smugness. For me, complacency has an element of self-satisfaction, whereas contentment doesn't seem so self-oriented.
roseneko
Nov. 18th, 2015 03:00 am (UTC)
My gut reaction, without having given it a lot of thought, is that contentment is a full feeling - something warm and solid, that fills you up and perhaps overflows into gratitude.

Complacency, by contrast, is more of an ebbing away; the disappearance of joy in small things as you cease to notice them, one by one, until all that's left is the shell of your former self, making the same motions but your mind long since departed for more interesting places.
stormdog
Nov. 18th, 2015 03:39 am (UTC)
I intentionally wrote my response without looking at what other people had to say. Your description of complacency is not what I was thinking of, but one that's quite good and sometimes fits my feelings about the word as well, I think.
(no subject) - roseneko - Nov. 18th, 2015 03:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 04:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roseneko - Nov. 18th, 2015 03:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
amaebi
Nov. 18th, 2015 03:13 am (UTC)
Contentment/complacency
Before looking at other comments:

What a splendid question.

I think that where a state of satisfaction/enoughness/contentment is read comparatively, as commentary on the distinction between observed and observer, it gets identified as complacency.

So, sometimes the observed really is doing some kind of "how well off I am, more than other beings" thing. And a noticing observer will identify the observed as complacent.

Sometimes the observer tends to read others as commentators on observer-self, and will read any other's satisfaction in that way. Such an observer will read contentment as complacency.
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 04:50 am (UTC)
Re: Contentment/complacency
You express something I was fumbling toward but wasn't able to articulate when I first was talking about it: the fact that a lot is in the eye of the beholder, and that--in at least some (maybe all?) cases, it may not be possible to get an objective reading on whether something's complacency or contentment.
stormdog
Nov. 18th, 2015 03:38 am (UTC)
For me, contentedness is a positive state. I associated with the good way I feel after a meal I really enjoyed, or after having just cleaned up my living space, looking around and feeling relaxed over everything being in it's place.

Complacency is how I'd feel if I was eating something I wasn't very fond of but it's what's in the house. Or the way I'd feel if I looked around my space and decided that, though things are a mess, I can live with them as they are because I have other thing to work on.
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 04:52 am (UTC)
Your definition of contentment I'm nodding at, but I think your feeling for complacency is maybe at odds with the dictionary sense of the word. But that's okay, because what I was interested in was people's impressions. So for you, complacency has a certain make-do feeling to it?
(no subject) - stormdog - Nov. 18th, 2015 04:56 am (UTC) - Expand
queenoftheskies
Nov. 18th, 2015 03:39 am (UTC)
For me, contentment is being at peace; happy and satisfied with things as they are.

Complacency, for me, would be tolerating things the way they were and making no attempt to change them/make them better.

I love the quotes you put on the tumblr.
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 04:57 am (UTC)
Yay! Glad you like the quotes. I'm going to add more. I have a picture now, too--going to upload it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on contentment and complacency. For me, complacency has a huge dollop of smugness. It's not so much, to my mind, about what you have, but the attitude you have about it. (But then again, when I try to pinpoint it, it goes all wobbly on me)
danceswithwaves
Nov. 18th, 2015 05:44 am (UTC)
For me contentment is being happy with how things are, or generally liking how things are, and so not wanting to change them because you can't imagine a better situation (in a good way).

Complacency is not caring how things are or maybe even being vaguely unhappy, but not wanting to change them because change would be too difficult and things are "good enough."

When you're complacent you're ok or fine, but when you're content you're good or great.
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 05:47 am (UTC)
V-e-r-r-y interesting.

I'm learning a lot from folks' reactions.
(no subject) - danceswithwaves - Nov. 18th, 2015 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 12:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
contentment complacency - desmondcoutinho - Nov. 19th, 2015 09:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: contentment complacency - asakiyume - Nov. 19th, 2015 02:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
cmcmck
Nov. 18th, 2015 09:18 am (UTC)
I guess you can be content without being complacent but not the other way around!
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 12:23 pm (UTC)
Excellent point! Contentment is the broader category/adjective then.
sartorias
Nov. 18th, 2015 01:52 pm (UTC)
Complacency takes contentment for granted. At least I see smugness implied there. Contentment is tranquil, a quiet state.
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 01:53 pm (UTC)
In my mind, too, the smugness is key. Complacency assumes rights to the state and is self-regarding; contentment doesn't focus on self, particularly.
(no subject) - sartorias - Nov. 18th, 2015 01:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 18th, 2015 02:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
wlotusopenid
Nov. 18th, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC)
When I am content I feel that things in that moment are exactly as they should be. I am filled with quiet joy and have an easy time being present in the moment.

When I am complacent I feel blah. I want things to change, but I don't feel like doing the work to change things. The color goes out in my life.
asakiyume
Nov. 18th, 2015 04:14 pm (UTC)
I love your description of contentment--that's beautiful.
heliopausa
Nov. 19th, 2015 01:25 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking that complacency comes with a tinge of self-congratulation, or maybe even just self. Contentment is knowing where you are, looking lovingly (is that going too far?) at the circumstances you're in, and accepting them; complacency is when the feeling creeps in that "I've done very nicely here".
asakiyume
Nov. 19th, 2015 02:33 pm (UTC)
Your thoughts are what I arrived at, too: that complacency is wrapped up in Self and thinks, approvingly, of Self in a situation, whereas contentment doesn't notice Self.
serialbabbler
Nov. 19th, 2015 04:40 pm (UTC)
For me the difference between contentment and complacency is that with contentment you are satisfied with things the way they are (comfortable, relaxed, not feeling a need for more/change/different/new/exciting etcetera and so forth) whereas with complacency you assume (often without knowing you're making that assumption) that things will remain in this state with no effort on your part. Complacency is stagnation. Contentment is not. Of course, either one can lead to people opting for the status quo to the detriment of others who are not satisfied with things the way they are for whatever reason. (I like my life. Who cares if you're starving because of it?)
asakiyume
Nov. 22nd, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
This is interesting: I've been tending to assume that because contentment is a word we use with approval and complacency a word we use with disapproval that therefore contentment (in actuality, not as a word) would never meet with disapproval, but now that I think about it, I think you're right: people can be critical of other people's contentment, too.

And I'm thinking about your last parenthetical, because I feel a certain resistance to the notion that contentment could be characterized by those sorts of thoughts. I think my instinct is that once one's aroused to thinking about one's situation in relation to others in that way, that if one then persists in I'm-all-right-Jack-too-bad-about-you, then it's moved from contentment to complacency. ... But maybe I'm wrong: or actually, what I'm thinking right now is that that sort of thinking is neither contentment nor complacency but maybe something else altogether--some kind of defensive protectiveness.

(sorry to be late in answering!)
(no subject) - serialbabbler - Nov. 22nd, 2015 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Nov. 22nd, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
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