Complaining Can Make You a Happier and More Social Person

"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied," said John Stuart Mill.

Complaining won't make you more satisfied with life but it can make you happier, argues Mariana Alessandri, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Texas-Pan American.

Alessandri revives an important distinction between satisfaction and happiness, first stated by John Stuart Mill. Satisfaction is the physical sense of having our needs met while happiness is motivated by the intellect. "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied," said Mill.

Complainers are often chided because their negative emotion won't change anything for the better. Complaining about cold weather, for example, isn't going to make things warmer. True, says Alessandri, but complaining does help us process our negative emotion about the weather.

And complaining is an important social tool. When we state the difficulty and stupidity of the world, we are stating it to somebody, asking them to participate in our assessment of the moment. Alessandri, who is also a New Yorker, writes: 

"A funny complaint from the person next to me can quickly lighten my mood, and hers. But the possibility of someone’s being a happy complainer gets lost when we equate dissatisfaction with unhappiness."

As polymath Peter Baumann explains in his Big Think interview, humans possess a "uniqueness bias" that makes us think that we are truly special. When we are inconvenienced by life—being stuck at a traffic light or suffering a long wait in a line—we complain.  Our shared sense of entitlement demands that we be treated specially.

Read more at the New York Times

Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Danish shoot down Trump's plan to buy Greenland, call the idea 'absurd'

The bid to buy Greenland is unlikely to become seriously considered.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Greenland and Danish officials alike think the idea is ridiculous.
  • The island is an autonomous state, and it's unlikely the Danish would sell it because of yearly subsidies costs.
  • After hearing the Danish Prime Minister call the idea absurd, Trump cancelled their forthcoming meeting.
Keep reading Show less

The 5 most intelligent video games and why you should play them

Some games are just for fun, others are for thought provoking statements on life, the universe, and everything.

(Photo from Flickr)
Culture & Religion
  • Video games are often dismissed as fun distractions, but some of them dive into deep issues.
  • Through their interactive play elements, these games approach big issues intelligently and leave you both entertained and enlightened.
  • These five games are certainly not the only games that cover these topics or do so well, but are a great starting point for somebody who wants to play something thought provoking.
Keep reading Show less

Study: Selfies are perceived far more negatively than ‘posies’

In a new study, people who posted a lot of selfies were generally viewed as less likeable and more lonely.

Kim Kardashian/Instagram
Surprising Science
  • A new study examined how people perceive others' Instagram accounts, and whether those perceptions match up with how the posters rate their own personalities.
  • The results show that people react far more positively to "posies," which are photos of the poster taken by another person.
  • Still, it remains unclear exactly why people view selfies relatively negatively.
Keep reading Show less