Stretch past complacency

A few years ago, economist Tyler Cowen published a complacency quiz to help individuals measure their level of complacency. The quiz has since been removed, but Tyler’s suggested complacency remedies are still posted.

He divided the remedies into three areas: Social Dynamism, Intellectual Dynamism and Physical Dynamism.

I’ve listed the suggestions I was most compelled to pursue. Read Tyler’s complete list here.

*Bonus: I created a few of my own remedies (see bottom). One for each of the three areas.

Can you invent a few?

Social Dynamism:

  • Go to lunch with someone in your office from a different department.
  • Explore a music genre you are not familiar with until you find three songs you really like.
  • Have a civil conversation with someone you typically disagree with on social or political issues. Take the time to figure out what drives them and where their ideas come from.

Intellectual Dynamism

  • Write an article defending the opposite political view of what you believe. Try to be as convincing as possible!
  • Identify the quirkiest thing about yourself and double down on that trait. Find similarly eccentric people in person or online.
  • Imagine your dream job. Look for it. Apply for it even if you think you aren’t qualified. What’s the worst that could happen?

Physical Dynamism

  • Leave your phone at home once a week.
  • Start a savings account so you can one day buy or rent the home of your dreams. Or at least have enough money to couch-surf all over the world.
  • Try to get to a location 20 or more min away (as the car drives) without your GPS.


Social Dynamism – Attend a regularly scheduled religious service (e.g. Sunday morning, Saturday night) and sit in the first three rows of the sermon or lecture.

Intellectual Dynamism – Write a short story. 1,000 word minimum. Submit it to a literary journal or any another publication seeking short stories.

Physical Dynamism – Sign up to play at least one season of a recreational level sport. If you grew up playing team sports, pick an individual sport. If you grew up playing individual sports choose a team sport.

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