Are you doing things only because society tells you you should? Or are you doing things because they truly make you happy?


(Justin Brown) #1

I think this is a fascinating question to explore. Society has expectations of us and it shapes so much of what we do.

I’m interested to know personal and reflective responses to this question. If you can reference or quote other people in your responses, that would be great. But if you need to respond just with your own reflections, that’s fine too.

I’ve got my own response but will share once we get a conversation going.


(Bill Ames) #2

I do not listen to society. It is incredibly stupid, short sighted, ignorant and unimaginative. They, in general, have not learned to think. People that can think will always be curious, look for new things, for explanations of the “how” or the “why.” They will not run away if I ask them a question on a subject they are not knowledgeable on. They will ask me questions, we will have a conversation. Talking to society is like talking to my cat. I do not expect anything more than “feed me.” I am never disappointed.

What makes me happy? To help others, help them learn to think, to show them a path to enlightenment. because there are so many opportunities to do this I am usually not at a loss for motivation and thus being happy. I am retired living off my pension so I do not have to worry about a job. My list of things to do is much too long, even mentoring on Ideapod is time consuming, but I can reach more of society using it as a free platform so it is well worth my time. Thank you Justin.


(Neil Simpson) #3

I would say a mixture of both. In order to function well within society there are certain rules we all obey without a second thought.

It may make me happier if I cut to the front of queue at my local shop but society deems this as unacceptable behaviour so my most likely option will be that I am unhappy and mutter under my breath about this social construct and that life would be so much better with more people serving us.

In our own minds we can envisage how a well managed world would look but a great part of our days are spent bemoaning that society falls short in so many areas and the people we put in charge of running our affairs are, at best idiots, or at worse pathological liars.


(Neil Simpson) #4

If you want an example of one man’s struggle with society and social norms look no further than Larry David and Curb Your Enthusiasm


(Murukessan Angappan) #5

I would like to bring in the idea of society, what ultimately is a society? If it guides us like a good friend then it’s well and good, however when it dictates, like the rules governing the society so ingrained in us we absolutely acknowledge them without second thought. Even an autistic person is unsocial, does it mean we need to behave like him. More intriguing is many great, aloof, secluded scientists were proven to be mildly autistic. Rather I would say society is good till it has no strangle hold over our individuality. But those who don’t have individuality gets washed away in the torrents of society. Einstein’s words suit this, " The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious . It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed" , one could draw parallelism between mysterious and individuality with respect to society


(Justin Brown) #6

I don’t think it’s possible to live life as an individual, separate from society. We are all part of various societies, whether it’s our local community or nation. Societies exist in other ways. For example, if you’re an accountant, you probably meet with other accountants outside your own organization, whether through a club or organization. This is a society of accountants.

Societies are aggregates of individuals who have expectations of each other. They also often develop their own languages to create meaning, talk about what’s important, and so on.

I think it’s quite naive to ever assume that one has reached an existence of individuality. We’re social beings and will quite naturally act according to people’s expectations of us, within various societies.

I think it’s really important to be aware of the impact society has on our behavior. Not for the purpose of changing our behavior, though. Rather, simply for the purpose of becoming more aware.

But the original question goes a little deeper. It focuses on your goals or desires, what motivates you. The question is whether societal expectations condition the things you pursue.

In my own case, the things I do generally focus on creating content for Ideapod, building tech platforms like this discussions area and the filter bubble buster, and of course our ownline courses. Am I doing this because society tells me I should?

Absolutely! There are many people with a vested interested in Ideapod’s success. I want Ideapod to succeed. Especially, these are the people using the platforms we have, enrolling in the online courses, reading our articles, etc.

But more pertinent to the question is the identity I get from working on such “important” things. I’m clear that everything represents provides something I think the world needs, especially in an age of polarization when politicians are trying to divide and rule us. My identity benefits because I become someone working on something big and important. I get a lot of positive feedback from society for doing this. It feeds my ego.

I don’t see how I could possibly find some kind of inner connection such that I do something just because it makes me happy.


(Mel Saint) #7

Funny that you used accountants as your point of reference, as I am an accountant. There are industry jargons and professional associations/conventions.

We can’t escape society, like it or not. I do agree with you on that point. Like how Koreans will look the same. Maybe, to themselves, they can’t tell the difference. But outsiders or foreigners can immediately see it the moment they set foot on South Korea. And see the distinct KPop fashion sense that everyone else is copying, consciously or unconsciously. And you can say the same for every other culture or race out there.

As for individuality, I still believe that in spite of societal influences, there’s still an inner drive within us to do what we want. Like for me, trading is my passion. It funds my charity, travel, lifestyle, everything. That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. I don’t see myself doing anything else. I know people who don’t like math at all, and are scared of it. So trading wouldn’t even attract them in the first place. Because the charts and numbers will seem overwhelming to them.


(Bill Ames) #8

Why do we do things? Probably because of the circumstances. In July 2000 I spent a week in Sydney because my company needed me to present a new product to our branches. This followed a week in Tokyo and a week in Singapore. My profession as a software developer made me focus on the product, not politics or society or people. And the products I worked with were limited by the capabilities of the computers on which the products ran. No matter how much the company wanted to make an excellent product, the reality of the hardware was in charge.

We now have a portion of society that wants to do things differently, but they can not ignore the reality of science, technology, business, politics, and religion. The reality of the world is in charge.

This is why I try to avoid reality, I live in retirement using my creative skills (and hopefully improving them) to make a better life experience for some parts of society. I help others when circumstances permit; I try very hard to “do no harm.” Watching the world (community) on TV news seems to indicate it has gone quite mad, not a source of inspiration I must admit.

All that is left to guide me are my nightly dreams (full motion picture quality) and my creative writing. Writing is hard, not fun, but the carrot on the string leads me along. Happiness is the goal, so it is worth the work.

For all who spend the middle of their lives working on some purpose, please consider if you would do the same thing in 40 years, are you just doing what you are doing because you have made it a habit or is it your real purpose in life? Who is pushing your buttons?