Let’s face it, we like the status quo. If we didn’t, we would change it. We like the foods we eat, where we live, our jobs, the school systems we send our kids to, the government we elect and the myriad relationships in our lives. We like them so much that they define our status quo, thereby allowing it to live up to its definition as “the existing state of affairs,” that which is.
The funny thing about us is that we like predictability, comfort and consistency on the one hand, and yet we also want surprise, the occasional unexpected experience and some degree of unpredictability on the other. It’s what makes life interesting—the fragile dance between certainty and uncertainty. I think of this as the structural tension of life, the push and pull on the status quo. Just as a movie plot requires a protagonist and antagonist, so does our lives.
However, for there to be uncertainty (to give our life excitement and meaning), we must have a norm, a pattern, a status quo to give us the comfort and assurance that we are in some way in control of our lives. Maybe it’s your daily calendar or the familiarity of your office, your home, your surroundings or the sameness of your daily commute. A vacation is only a break when you have something to break from.
Why do we seek the status quo and so often complain or profess to want to break it? Predictability in a film or a novel is boring and yet, in our daily lives, we crave it. We follow patterns of behavior for efficiency, comfort and security. It’s natural.
So I say, embrace the status quo. Accept that being a creature of habit is OK. Conversely, if your status quo is not the foundation of the life you want, or if it doesn’t strengthen the person who you want to be or become, what are you waiting for? I believe the adage that there are three requirements for happiness:
1. Something to do.
2. Someone to love.
3. Something to look forward to.
If your status quo isn’t reinforcing each of these dimensions of your life, it’s time to make a change. The truth is, most of us don’t change because we see the light but because we feel the heat.
Before we complain about the status quo in politics, government, business, our school systems or the routine of our own lives, we must remember that one man’s rut is another man’s groove.
Here’s to the status quo.