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On Comfort ...
What to Seek
In the vast tapestry of human existence, comfort stands out as one of the most sought-after experiences. From our earliest ancestors huddled around fires to modern humans reclining in technologically advanced homes, the quest for comfort is an undeniable aspect of our nature. But while comfort provides a reprieve from the toils of life, it is also a silent saboteur of our progress.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my comfort; I always have. I would spend hours researching the most comfortable office chair or couch. What’s the best running shoe, and which thread count is best for optimal sleep? I have done it all. While I have amassed many of those comfort purchases over my life, there is now a clear recognition that the best comfort is not always what is most optimal for you.
My father laughs at me every time he comes to visit. There is always something new in the house. I recently bought one of those robo-hoovers. The idea wasn’t bad. It should help clean up small things around the house. I hardly use it, to be honest.
There is something to be learned from the older and seemingly more resilient generation. They get on with it and do it themselves. My father cooks two meals daily. It’s not that it is inconvenient. He enjoys it, and it keeps him mentally focused. This reminded me of my travels in Japan. I noticed how older people would quite happily take the stairs around train stations. When offering older travellers my seat, my gesture would often be refused without fail. It would also appear that the design around all the bridges in Tokyo would purposely force older people to walk and endure some of the stresses rather than wrap them in cotton wool.
As comfort portrays a universal value in our society, maybe it’s worth considering some of the negative side effects that come with it. As I outlined in my thought piece about happiness, some fulfilment is certainly felt when we achieve something. I can certainly attest to that. In order to achieve this, however, we need a good dose of effort. And effort, my friends, takes time, consistency, character and good old grit. I fear that many can’t sustain an effort. Look around you; people give up on hard tasks, and today’s society even accepts this almost as a heroic act.
Various diseases through obesity are on the rise, purely because we have grown to like comfort without being able to wind back some of it. Ceasing physical activity does not bring greater well-being. Rather, people who stop exercising become increasingly unfit for even normal activity, suffering ever-greater aches, pains, and limitations.
It takes a certain kind of person who refuses to seek comfort. I, for beginners, still haven’t tried a plunge in the old Wim Hof-style ice bath, but I probably should. Those who constantly seek improvement don’t take setbacks as failures in their quest to better themselves. Relentless optimists of life; I know a few, but they are rare to find. These personalities also actively seek managed physical suffering in order to reach a higher self.
Suffering, however, is not something a typical human is willing to seek actively. From the subtle sting of everyday disappointments to the overwhelming weight of heart-wrenching tragedies, suffering challenges our very understanding of the world.
Yet, it's precisely in these moments of vulnerability that our resilience is put to the test. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we have the capacity to emerge from suffering with renewed strength. It's through adversity that we uncover the depths of our courage, the expanse of our empathy, and the vastness of our capacity to heal. Suffering, as paradoxical as it may seem, can sculpt us into more compassionate beings capable of understanding and offering solace to others who tread the same rocky path.
Believe me, I have been there several times, and I can truly say that it has given me profound strength and humility and serves as a stark reminder that life is inherently unpredictable. It compels us to reevaluate our attachment to outcomes and instead focus on the resilience of our spirit. It's in the wake of suffering that we can learn to relinquish our grip on the uncontrollable and find solace in the realm of acceptance.
As I evaluate my unstoppable stride towards my older years, I am actively looking at uncomforting myself. This is with the view that I will prove more resilient when the hands of time will test my health most. I am trying to walk more, and I have started to lift heavier weights in the gym this year. Adding muscle mass, so is my belief, will help both my metabolism and resilience further down the road. I see this as a vital investment.
Furthermore, I am trying to set myself a misogi. The original name comes from a Japanese purifying ritual. It generally involves making the pilgrimage to an icy waterfall. Standing underneath the cold water symbolises intense purification. The modern version I am referring to is the simple notion that once a year, you should try something so hard for one that it will impact all other days in the year. It also involves a high degree of failure, but that’s precisely to get you out of your comfort and challenge what you think you know about yourself.
I am also thinking about getting a professional coach. Just someone who is there as an observant and is ultimately paid to discover certain biases and quirks, which I should probably be working on. Uncomfortable truth, and I am uneasy with the thought although I know that it will be ultimately extremely beneficial for my own good.
The whole process isn’t meant to be easy, but a necessary reminder to rid myself of those unproductive and possibly harmful comforts in life. Let’s see how I go. I shall keep you posted on my progress.
Wishing you all the strength and progress in your own journey.