But being kind and helpful takes far too much work; who has that kind of the time and energy? Plus, we’d feel silly and might be ridiculed by others, and we should always let our actions be governed by peer pressure. As the saying goes, “To appear to be wise, let your peers be your guides.”
However, it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to be more adequate. In fact, you may find that being adequate is actually more time-efficient than other approaches. We needn’t really change the way we do things at all, except that when faced with a choice of behaviors we pick the one that causes the least disruption, so that everyone can get on with their business.
Here are some tips for leading a more adequate life:
When someone does something really nice for you, like giving you a present or saving your life, be sure to look vaguely in their direction and smile slightly. No thanks is necessary, because someone close enough to you to do this for you must know how you feel.
When you are driving along, approaching an intersection where you will turn and you see someone waiting for you because they think you’re going straight instead, don’t use the turn signal. Using it would let the person know that you intend to turn and they could go ahead, but that’s just forcing them into the awkward position of trusting you to not go straight anyway and plow into them. Also, a turn signal is just one more piece of blinking data in this already information-littered world; by not turning it on, you’re letting that other person’s brain relax slightly, enjoying the time that they spend waiting for you to possibly drive past. Besides, it’s so much effort to flick the turn signal stick; save that energy for more important things, like walking to get your next cup of coffee.
When you’re approaching a doorway and someone is there holding the door open for you, don’t acknowledge them. They were just doing this to be kind, and derived full enjoyment of it from the action. It would just be awkward if you thanked them.
Don’t make cruel jokes about others behind their backs; that would be mean. But do laugh when others do so. The victim is not even present and wouldn’t know, but the person making the jokes would be hurt if you didn’t play along. Besides, they might make fun of you next time unless they think you’re one of them.
These are just examples, and can’t begin to cover the full spectrum of ways in which you could lead a more adequate life. Think of them as parables. Or as allegories, without the annoying animals. Look for their inner meaning and see how you can apply it to your daily routine, and I think you’ll find yourself becoming totally adequate.