I’ve got nothing against comfort. Hell, I have flannel bed sheets. But I’m starting to believe that this preconceived notion of seeking out comfort in our lives is a slippery slope. I’m not talking about physical comfort, please keep wearing fuzzy socks and avoiding extreme pain. What I’m talking about today is the conscious efforts we make everyday to be emotionally/socially/psychologically comfortable. I of course acknowledge the basic human need of stability but I’d like to argue that discomfort is essential to our growth and wellbeing.
I think it is safe to say that most of us strive to be best we can be. We go to school to get an education, we follow laws and our own sets of morals in order to be active members of society, we meditate to find deeper meaning and we travel to broaden our view of other cultures. But in all truth, I think that a large majority of us only do these things within our comfort zones. We often choose morals and religion based on what we were raised to believe rather than exploring other options. We do yoga and meditate because it’s totally in right now and let’s be honest that picture you posted on instagram of you doing a handstand in a twisted ball of limbs is pretty cool. We travel with guided tours because we are afraid of being alone in an unknown place. We make friends and we keep them because it is hard to make new ones. None of this is WRONG.
So where am I going with this?
You could be getting so much more out life if you pushed some of these elements to the extreme- out of your comfort zone. What if you went to India and studied yoga for a year rather than just showing up to your weekly class at the local gym? Or how about leaving your church briefly to spend time in temples and monasteries? Or postponing jumping into a career straight out of college? Or using your precious savings account on a rash decision to follow a passion? The list goes on and on, but it all cultivates growth and intention. You might find that your ideals, beliefs and goals don’t change much but now you have some serious backbone to your convictions. Think about some of the moments in your life that have shaped you at the core. For me, these are experiences that were not exactly comfortable at the time; moving to a new state, questioning my belief system, traveling without my parents, making rash spending decisions, working for free etc… But I learned something invaluable in these uncomfortable moments. I learned about myself. Which is something most of us are pretty afraid of.
I’m not sure if it is just western culture, but I find that we have created a basic path to “happiness” that we grow up believing to be the ultimate guide. Go to school, get a job, save money, fall in love (or something close to it), get married, have kids, and make sure they follow the same cycle. This is all fine and dandy, but PLEASE make sure this is actually what YOU want. Explore other ways of life, different religions, different countries, different activities, different political views, different friends, different diets… then you will know, deep down in your bones who you are and what you stand for. You will have a much deeper understanding of the workings of the world and therefor a stronger foundation to change it.
I’m no saint. I love comfort just as much as the next person. I get terribly nervous meeting new people, so I often avoid it. I have strong opinions of politics and find myself saying mean things in my head about people who have different views. I don’t like being stuck upside down in a kayak, so I don’t practice rolling one. But I see all of these things as a chance to learn and grow. I’ve begun to force myself into situations that make me uncomfortable and scared because I know the reward is priceless. It’s changed my life completely and will change yours too if you give it a chance.
Get out there and get uncomfortable!