Many people reach a stage in life where they say, “I just want to be comfortable”. But what is comfort, exactly?
The dictionary defines it as a state of well-being or ease. And it is that. But is comfort the same thing as satisfaction?
It is not only possible to be comfortable without being satisfied, it is a common state.
I find that if I look back on my life I can break it up into fairly obvious “eras”, chapters of my life that have a clear beginning and an end. In the most recent era, prior to the one I am in now, I was very comfortable.
My life was easy. I had an easy job. I did not have to concern myself with paying rent, it was included. I had an attractive girlfriend. We went on lots of trips and impromptu adventures. I was sexually fulfilled. I rarely went to bed feeling lonely.
But I was not fulfilled. In fact there were several key areas where my life was lacking.
- I was not intellectually stimulated. I had no one to talk to or relate to on a daily basis.
- I was not making enough money.
- For various reasons, I did not feel respected, or respectable.
- I was bored.
- Though some aspects of my relationship were good, many others were not, and I had become conscious of the fact that I saw it as temporary.
- I had gained some weight, and was getting increasingly out of shape.
- Though I was frequently engaging in activities that were pleasant, or nice, I felt deprived of fun.
- I saw my dreams getting further away, not closer.
I could go on for a long time with this list, but I think that’s enough to illustrate my point. Despite all of those problems in my life, I felt very little motivation to change anything.
I was comfortable. Comfort is the enemy of change.
I knew my relationship was becoming unhealthy and that I was not fully committed, and yet I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want the discomfort of being alone and having to find someone new. I knew that unless I started making more money I would never have the lifestyle I envisioned for myself, and yet I had a roof over my head and enough money that I didn’t ever worry about eating, so I didn’t feel an urgency to change anything.
Comfort is by nature temporary.
Let’s take the example of a bed. And let’s say it is a particularly expensive bed, with a memory foam pillow top. When you lay in this bed, it feels heavenly, and extremely comfortable. You might think to yourself, “I could stay in this bed forever”. In the morning you might still be so comfortable you find it hard to extract yourself from it.
But what would really happen if you never left that bed? Would it stay comfortable? Absolutely not! Within a day you would start to feel dirty, and feel the urge to shower. After a week you would likely start to develop bed sores. The dead skin would collect and attract bugs, and what was once heavenly would quickly become a prison, and far from comfortable.
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If we know that we cannot lie in bed forever and remain comfortable, then we also know that eventually we will have to kick off the blankets and rise up to face the other aspects of our life that may not be quite so much to our liking.
If we don’t do this, and we choose to stay in bed where it is comfortable, eventually our hand will be forced. What is presently comfortable, be it a bed, a relationship, a job, or a pair of shoes, will cease to be so, and we’ll be left with a mess to clean up, and possibly, sore feet.
The difference between comfort and satiety.
Satiety is the permanent version of comfort. When you are satiated, you are satisfied to the point that nothing can make it better.
You don’t look at your partner and think, “gee our sex life is great, but I wish you were less boring and more interested in politics.” You think, “Wow, I love you so much, and nothing you could do or change could make me love you more.”
You never think to yourself, “I hate my job, but hey, at least it’s a paycheque”. You are always confident that what you are doing matters, and work is just an extension of yourself.
When you are satiated, you won’t want for anything. You may have things you would like to have, or do, but you will not feel deprived or unsatisfied if you don’t have them, they are optional extras.
Nostalgia is the best friend of comfort.
Often times, when we have stepped out of a comfortable situation because we know it is holding us back, we find ourselves confronted by nostalgia. When the future is uncertain, it is natural for us to think about the past, and long for what was comfortable.
What’s deadly about nostalgia is that it always looks different from reality. Nostalgia shows us the past as we wish it was, anything negative tends to be either filtered out, or blurred into the background.
Nostalgia and comfort work together to stunt our growth and keep us from progress.
Good comfort and bad comfort.
So far I have talked about the negative aspects of comfort, but like most things in life, comfort is neither a positive, nor a negative, and also both at the same time.
Though comfort can be a hindrance to growth, it can also be essential for it. You do need a comfortable bed to sleep in if you want to be healthy and have energy to accomplish your goals, but you do have to make sure that you don’t sleep in every day and let those goals slip away from you.