The topic of the insidious nature of comfort has been on my mind for over six months. It seems relevant to write about it now as I have been addressing some uncomfortable topics. My thoughts on comfort started with physical comfort. It was a very cold winter day and I was in a vehicle that had heated seats. It was great to have that instantaneous way to be (semi) warm.
From there I started thinking about how many of our modern conveniences are created to help us avoid physical discomfort. I’m not talking about pain; I mean being a little cold, a little hungry, etc. We have become accustomed to being comfortable and there is a constant ‘raising of the bar’ with our physical comfort. As that increases, I think that our belief that we should always be comfortable goes with it. We aren’t aware of it, but we become increasingly intolerant to discomfort.
Perhaps this is fine, but I think this bleeds from our physical realm into other realms. This is what I mean by insidious. We have become discomfort avoiders. We avoid physical discomfort and we don’t want to be emotionally or mentally uncomfortable either.
When we are presented with ideas that aren’t like ours, we often retreat to the safety of people who think ‘just like us’. We retreat from emotional discomfort. We avoid uncomfortable conversations because we view them as ‘confrontation’. We beat around the bush and then assume we had the conversation. We sometimes even force the other person to confront us by taking their cooperation for granted. We don’t want to be uncomfortable asking for what we need, so we assume and force the discomfort onto them. They have to tell us if they don’t want to do what we want!
We somehow believe that nothing should ever cause us ‘stress’ or even cause us to be concerned. We should never feel nervous or fearful because we are trying something new.
I realize that the common response to this topic will be “this doesn’t apply to me”, but I think it does. Discomfort avoidance is impacting your life. In some way or ways, you are seeking comfort (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) over fully experiencing life. We all need to examine how our need for comfort is creeping into our decision making, and impacting our lives.
Are you avoiding making certain major life changes (job, retirement, firing friends, going back to school) because you might be uncomfortable? Are you avoiding taking steps towards career success because you are more comfortable staying at the level of your friend’s success? Does this topic make you uncomfortable?
Living life and ensuring that we don’t die with our song still in us is uncomfortable. It is not easy to embark on major change, but I say it is better than not living.
Note: this topic still feels unfinished, so I welcome your thoughts.