A huge highlight for me this week was to spend an inspiring and enjoyable hour or so with Chris Desmond, host of the highly recommended ‘Uncomfortable is OK’ podcast series. Chris’s focus is to challenge the idea that being comfortable is what we need to be happy and fulfilled.
In behavioural science we are taught that it is a human desire to be continually be moving away from discomfort OR towards comfort. From this we seem to believe that comfort is the ultimate goal of life.
But is it?
Think about a pendulum, with extreme discomfort at one end, and pure comfort at the other. Let’s look at the pure comfort end first. What makes us perfectly comfortable? Clearly, to start with comfort comes from having all our basic needs met; food, shelter, warmth and the like. But, for most of us, this is simply not enough. The desire for perfect comfort demands perfect relationships, a perfect job, perfect car, perfect house….. It is a bit like the fake idealism of the Jones family in the movie “The Joneses”. In the movie the family seem to have every comfort imaginable, but it is all a fraud. Scratch just beneath the surface and you quickly see that striving for perfect comfort is dysfunctional and unreachable.
Move the pendulum slightly away from the extreme of ‘perfect comfort’ and we come to a place where nothing much happens. Everything is OK; work is OK, home is OK, relationships are FINE, life is FINE. There is no spark, no desire for change. Maybe there is a dream to receive a big windfall, win the lottery, or be bequeathed a huge sum of money from a long lost relative so you can move a step closer to the imagined ‘perfect comfort’, but it’s just a dream.
Now, swing the pendulum right up to the top of the side of ‘extreme discomfort’. This is a place where it is hard to survive for any length of time without shutting down or breaking down. Extreme discomfort is where pain, serious illness, tragedy and trauma live. Many of us have experienced life at this limit for a time and some of us have hit the top of the pendulum swing many times over.
When extreme discomfort strikes, we have a choice; to stay, or to change. Discomfort is a place of potential, a place to exercise your resilience muscle, a place to look for strength, courage and fortitude. Discomfort challenges your beliefs, challenges your perceptions and provides opportunity for growth.
Joe Robinson, in his Huffington Post article “Why Comfort is Actually Bad For You”says, “We’re here to venture, challenge ourselves and grow. It’s built into the biochemistry. Comfort is allergic to the forward progress your brain neurons crave. The goal isn’t to avoid lifting a finger on this planet, but to dig in with both hands to the wisdom of uncomfortable places.”
To discover more, Chris Desmond and his ‘Uncomfortable is OK’ guests are well worth a listen. It may change your world! You can find Uncomfortable is OK here: http://uncomfortableisok.libsyn.com/about