happiness in slavery…I mean, security

I’ve been silently stewing musing over Alan Shimel’s recent post about optimism in security (btw, *love* me some Louis CK!). Then I saw Securosis mention it, and I thought I’d echo some thoughts out.

I could rant a lot about this and make a long post, but not only would I add nothing new, I’m sure I’ve said it all here before anyway, and I agree with both Rothman and Shimel above, for the most part.

What I will say, however, is that optimism/pessimism is a relative thing, and it depends on how you define your happiness. Which in turn depends on how you view your current position in relation to your goals. I think way too often security folks don’t think about their happiness and goals consciously enough. They just want perfect security and solutions and get upset (deeply) when it doesn’t happen, or can’t happen. It’s fine to hit that wall and be frustrated, but you have to accept that that is our reality and not let it define your underlying happiness. Strive for more, but be happy with where you are. There are endless cliches on this sentiment, such as stopping to smell the roses, or life’s a journey, etc.

I for one have no problem going to a conference and bitching, sharing war stories, drinking frustrations away, and being generally pessimist. I’d rather do that than pretend everything is shiny and happy and sit back and pat our own backs. That’s fine, but one approach will more probably result in steps forward while the other is really not going to result in progress. I know that might be conflating Shimel’s point about celebrating our victories and being enthused about how far we’ve come in such a short period of technological change.

My own philosophy on happiness (which is sort of influenced by Randian objectivism, though maybe not too obviously from this simplification): Either you’re happy or you’re not. If you’re not happy, change things to attain that happy state. If you’re unable or unwilling to make those changes, then you *must* change your viewpoint such that you become happy. Take for instance a minivan driver. He wants to drive his minivan like a sports car, but it’s just not built for that, so he’s not happy. He has two options: buy a car that suits his wants, or change his viewpoint to become happy with the minivan, i.e. stop driving like it’s something that it’s not, and enjoy it for what it is and the things it does well. The worst outcome is to do nothing and remain unhappy. More people in security (and in general everywhere) really need to put more conscious thought into their fundamental happiness, which goes deeper than point-in-time moments of celebration and joy.

Personally, the angry pessimistic state of security is comforting and actually does make me happy.

As a parting philosophical shot, I will say just be happy with the world around you right now. Enjoy our progress and enjoy nature at every moment you can.