An Experiment in Friday Philosophizing

2010 October 1

Testing out a new feature. I will ask open-ended questions and you will come up with your own answers. We will sip tea and look thoughtful. I will wear the glasses. Let me know what you think.

Photo by Shandi-lee

Which is preferable: Wanting what’s best for someone or wanting them to be happy?

I posed this question on Twitter this morning. It’s one I’ve been mulling over for a few days now. Sometimes, I just like to give my brain a little workout.

It comes down to how we want and need to be supported and how we support others. Do you want to be challenged or cheered? Do you consider having your assumptions and actions questioned a path to growth or simply demoralizing? Does having your choices backed up unconditionally give you confidence in your decision-making ability or enable you stay in a rut? Do you push others even when they won’t push themselves or do you pride yourself on sticking by your friends and family no matter what?

Of course, your answer will likely vary according to the situation. What you want/need from your boss, your therapist or your mother is going to be different (unless all three are the same person, in which case, you might consider diversifying). But it will also vary according to whether you prioritize achievement over embodiment or vice versa. Ideally, we all want to be blissfully content while fulfilling our lofty potential (and want the same for others if we’re pretending to be altruistic sorts), but what if the two aren’t compatible? What if happiness means dialing down the ambition or being all you can be involves being pretty glum in the process? Which wins out? Which should win out?

Ponder it and get back to me. Or better yet, take up the question on your own turf (blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and share your answer with the class.

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