We all know what comfort feels like. If you are reading this blog post, you most likely have access to a computer and the internet, and you have a place to sit in which to read this post from, which indicates to me that you probably have more than what you need to live a comfortable life. Comfort makes us feel more content, and contentment makes us feel happy. However, sometimes, I absolutely dislike being comfortable.
When I feel comfortable, I know I am not growing. I know that I am doing what I am good at or what I have experienced before. Typically, I am not doing anything new. I know that I am not pushing myself, or creating changes in a default society. None of these things make me feel comfortable at all. Thus, I am always searching for points of discomfort.
When you experience discomfort, you suddenly notice all the things you had that made you comfortable before. You become grateful for your life and the surrounding circumstances that keep you content. There is this moment where one realizes that other people may be in more unfortunate situations, which lends said person a small insight into their existing fortunes. Mike and I had an experience in New Zealand where we decided to do a three day trek through the Fiordlands. Unfortunately, on the day we set out, a massive storm came to pass. We were being jostled in the wind, drenched to the bone (underneath supposed water-proof clothing), and exhausted after being beaten down by Mother Nature on a six hour journey up a mountainous land. When we got to the lodge, we were never more grateful. The roof kept us dry, the showers were warm, and we were off our feet. Simple things became things of great pleasure, and were suddenly considered luxuries! So, discomfort can be good, because it reminds us true differences between basic needs, and excess wants. Our perspective is refocused and we are able to look at the world anew.
Aside from refocusing our perspectives to places of gratitude, it is also good to seek discomfort once in a while, in the name of progress. My boss always tells me, “I like being uncomfortable! It means something new is happening. It means I am learning, I am growing, and at the very least, I am trying.” I love that constant drive to keep moving forward, rather than standing still.
We all feel uneasy when we go outside of our comfort zone. It’s instilled in us from birth, to protect us as a species from potential harm. But all of mankind’s greatest achievements would never have been achieved if no one powered through that feeling of unease, sometimes for the sake of curiosity, sometimes for the sake of necessity. Thus, I am always in search of things that bring me slight discomfort. I don’t throw myself carelessly into questionable situations. I do not riot against society for the sake of rioting. But I ask questions. I put myself out there. I agree to do new things, always, even if I am afraid (also always). There is this misconception that great people become great because they are made of the right stuff. It’s easy to believe that they were born with some drive that the rest of us were not. It gives people the excuse to continue being, well, where they are. The truth is that they are made of the same stuff as you and I, filled with the same fears and the same doubts, born with the same small voice that shouts “Go with the flow” when they are pulled in an opposite direction. The separation lies in the fact that they know deep down that, failing at something is NOT worse than failing to try. And I feel a little bit of that, too.