Comparison and Contrast of Complacency and Happiness - Society Essay Example

Comparison and Contrast of Complacency and Happiness

There are many similar textual layers in the words complacency and happiness that it is easy to confuse the use of either word for the other - Comparison and Contrast of Complacency and Happiness introduction. However, although the words share almost identical meanings according to their explicit definitions there is a big world of difference between the two words taking into account their connotation and context. The strict definition of words is arguably permanent but the connotation attached to or at least attendant in every word is not fixed. Connotation varies from generation to generation and changes from across different cultures of the same language. As such, there are gradual changes in the usage of the word from the way it was used before when a word has undergone a sort of social redefinition according perhaps to the popularity of its use.

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Complacency and happiness are similar in the sense that both words capture the emotional states of contentment, ease, laxity and the feelings of achievement, security, serenity and pleasure. Complacency as explicitly defined means: “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). Happiness, on the other hand, is defined strictly as “a state of well-being and contentment; joy or a pleasurable or satisfying experience” (Webster-Webster Online Dictionary). The loose interpretation of the definition of both words permits the conclusion that complacency and happiness are words that stem from a common mental state of contentment. Contentment means a condition wherein a person no longer seeks or desires more or less than what he experiences or possesses at the present. Explicitly, happiness means contentment in the general sense which gives the image of satisfaction and ease. Complacency too elicits the image of satisfaction and ease of a person on a certain situation or experience.

However, when implicitly defined and used, the stark contrast in context and in usage and style makes the interchange of either word for the other sound off-beat if not improper. In other words, to use happiness for complacency and vice-versa would be a glaring error. Thus, while it is true that both words share a common root emotional state, they carry implicit connotations which define them as two different words altogether. Thus, on one hand, happiness is a state of contentment and pure satisfaction per se and that complacency is a state of happiness as well. However, on the other hand, complacency is happiness with certain contextual consequences. The contextual consequences depend now on the situation and the happenstance of a person whether or not his happiness forebodes impending danger or doom; or whether the current state of happiness is a result of pride, conceit, gloating and smugness such that the complacent person takes satisfaction and glorification of his happiness as against the misery of the others.

Indeed, happiness is a simple word with quite a number of positive connotations. No matter how the word is use, it is most likely that the way it is used is always about what is good and pleasant to a person. Complacency is a rather tricky word with several yet uniform variations in its usages all with different negative connotations. Complacency is used exactly in situations where [place] a person feels secure enough to boast and to gloat, when [time] he is at the point of superficial invulnerability towards or against [whom] people who to him are inferior, in a manner [how] that is condescending and snobbish. Ultimately, the purpose of the use of the word [why] is to denote or contemplates a situations where a person or a society rests dangerously on his/their laurels, so to speak, that from the point of view of an outsider, such that a person or society runs the risk of being side-swept unawares by an unseen or unpredicted event.

Happiness, in contrast, is the same state of contentment and satisfaction but the word evokes neither a negative meaning or envisions a future harm or danger. It is merely a state of being happy without the implicit and extraneous consequences brought about by any boastful and smug attitudes as in the case of the word complacency. Happiness is used in situations where a person enjoys an experience at any time for any purpose and in any manner which befit the image of a person who rejoices or delights, in pure ecstasy or exhilaration, based on a certain cheerful situation and so on.

Works Cited

“Connotation.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online.

Retrieved on 8 March 2009

<http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/connotation>.

            “Happiness.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online.

Retrieved on 8 March 2009

<http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happiness>.

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