Re: Mental Disturbance and Creative Achievement

Dr. Ernest N. Prabhakar (ernest@pundit)
Wed, 3 Sep 97 23:21:13 -0700


I would agree that dissatisfaction with the world as it is is a
strong motivator for change, and hence greatness.

However, I would still argue that this motivation can manifest itself
as a deep joy or love instead of misery or angst. I believe there is
such a thing as a discontented peace. Certainly in the religious
realm, one sees a St. Francis of Assisi or a Gandhi as fundamentally
happy people who nonetheless revolutionized the world.

So yes, you can use pain and insecurity as a spur towards greatness.
And if that is all you have, I don't fault you for doing it - it is I
suppose somewhat better to be great and miserable than boring and

But... don't let the search for greatness become an excuse for
misery. There -are- other sources of inspiration out there, they are
just harder to tap into ("The Light Side"). You can be miserable if
you want to, but it isn't required.

You can be happy. It is allowed. It is not incompatible with having
a meaningful life. True, if you're happy it is easier to live
without fame and fortune, but you can still reach for those things.
The difference is that you have to be happy IN pursuing fame and
fortune, not pursuing happiness IN fame and fortune.

It's the Muppet Movie question: "Do you want to be rich and famous
and make millions of people happy?" A quest like that is based on
love, not (merely) a need for significance, but that doesn't make it
any less passionate. Just much less self-destructive.

-- Ernie "Happily Unemployed while Waiting for Apple to Decide My
Fate" Prabhakar

You wrote:
> [1. < is an EXCELLENT site.
> 2. Please check out the 8-point checklist below, if nothing else
> ("about half of Nobel laureates in science have studied under other
> laureates") 3. Bottom line: there isn't a conclusive case that
> innovation requires misery, but it's close :-]
> <
> Mental Disturbance and Creative Achievement