True, but is it useful?

Your father is a great American success story. Your mother perhaps even more so. Though you, the member of the next generation that you are, a generation that’s so exhaustingly hyper-aware, might quip back that their success is the product of some form of oppression and privilege and that, in fact, they would be more successful living more fulfilling lives if they were not in America but in some Scandinavian country. I’ll freely concede all of these points since you’re, what, a few weeks old, and I will not debase myself by arguing with a baby.

But in my concession, I can’t help but point out that even in your “correctness” you still have a choice to focus on the quip in the first place; just because an observation is accurate doesn’t make it worthy of attention. Yes, it’s important to be living in reality, to not be deluded. Yes, positive change can start with proper identification of a suboptimal order. And sure, you get to feel smarter than everyone else by always pointing out what they overlook. Here you are a few weeks into existence getting to look down at me. Must be nice.

Still, are these upsides only captured by basking in a seductive form of negativity? In what mental space will you spend the majority of your time? Because at every moment that you can correctly point out some “truth” with a negative valence – a truth that, btw, often demands zero action; what, should your parents move to Scandinavia?- there is another truth that is far more positive and uplifting. Better still, these truths usually have a clear associated action. Namely, do more of that thing that’s working. Or do it better. Or really understand why it worked and perhaps discover elements that can be sensibly deployed elsewhere. This path feels a lot more productive, right? Ah, but I can already hear you revving up to rant about the ills of capitalism and why does everything have to be about productivity and how we must stop feeding a vapid materialistic existence that’s ruining the planet. OK. Fine. Strip away the productivity and the monetization of everything and the perpetual need to grow and go with this: let’s spend time just appreciating that which is in any sense good, and what is good here is that you are born, you are alive, you have two loving parents, and you have me, a total stranger, wishing you a happy life.