hamster, step off that wheel!

While Tina and I are not exactly sure what is going to happen with this blog, one thing we have mutually resolved at the outset is that we will not let any kind of aspiration for it compromise its spirit. And in this spirit, I offer as recommended reading: The Underachiever’s Manifesto, by Ray Bennett. (Bonus: As you might expect, it’s quite short.)

Some selected quotes:

“The pleasures of underachievement are many, but they are all too often lost in the pressure for success. (Or, SUCCESS!) The achievement lobby is powerful, and underachievement is, surprisingly, not as easy as it should be… Never mind that no one agrees on what it means to be ‘the best,’ and that it’s actually impossible for everyone to be it, whatever it is.”

“[T]he addiction of achievement leaves behind failed relationships, unhealthy bodies, corrupted minds, or some terrible combination of all three. It’s a sickness that would be considered an epidemic, but of course too many doctors are afflicted with the disease to recognize the symptoms.”

“If something is worth doing at all, sometimes it’s worth doing half-assed.” [This one is so much more obviously true than the more familiar “…it’s worth doing right.”]

“For every life potentially improved and extended by _modest_ exercise, there’s another that has been significantly impaired or shortened by the insane drive for intense physical activity.”

The book discusses the underachiever approach to work, finances, romance, and even religion. As someone who has a mixed set of attitudes about achiever-orientation, I found the book not just amusing but genuinely interesting, as it prompts one to consider what are the real arguments against doing something other than settling for comfortable mediocrity.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

2 thoughts on “hamster, step off that wheel!”

  1. “If something is worth doing at all, sometimes it’s worth doing half-assed.”

    All I could think of after reading this was: dissertation.

    Like

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