Blogtember: On Comfort

Friday, September 20: React to this term: comfort. Everyone likes being comfortable. Nobody wants to be uncomfortable; we try to hurry it up just to get back to the comfortable places. Sometimes the ultimate daily paradox, for me, is the fact that I strive for comfort in all areas of life, but I continually become my best self due to the periods of discomfort. Or I think I want to make the comfort-oriented choice, but it actually makes me feel worse in the long run. For example:

It's more comfortable for me to sleep in, but I am more productive if I get in a run before the sun comes up.

It's fun to dilly-dally reading things on the Internet all day, but I'm happier if I spend more time creating and writing.

It's easy to slouch in my desk chair for hours upon hours (whether I'm busy or "busy"), but my body and mind appreciate mini breaks--a short walk, a chat with coworkers, a glass of water--every 30 minutes or so.

It's enjoyable how a post-work drink can take take the edge off a long day, but I hate feeling hungover the next day if that one drink turns into three.

It's painless to skip deep stretches during yoga, but amazing how fast the ouch factor disappears.

It's effortless to avoid an emotional or deep conversation with a loved one, but my sense of connection and the relationship in general suffer without them.

It's delicious to eat a pint of ice cream for dinner, but then I have a stomachache. (Note: really good dessert is worth the trouble.)

And so on. Know what I'm saying?

You can't have comfort without discomfort, nor do you want to, despite what you might think. Chela Davidson, a life coach and writer, says, "The pieces that feel edgy or vomit-inducing are not evidence of your inadequacy. You’re not inadequate. You’re just at an edge. There are always edges." I love that perspective because it reinforces the idea that discomfort is only temporary and it is a major part of a fulfilling life. It doesn't mean you aren't allowed to or shouldn't be comfortable (i.e., you can eat good food and have nice things and go on trips and enjoy healthy relationships, etc.), but you're making a mistake if you avoid the discomfort that comes with those choices (i.e., where does that food come from and at what cost? are you using your good fortune to give back to your community? what places of the world are you seeing, and what are you learning? etc.)

So lately, I've been challenging myself to reframe uncomfortable situations. There are lots of things I find uncomfortable, but I try to embrace them instead of steering clear. It's hard, and sometimes it's not fun, but more often than not, it's rewarding in the long term. I also cut myself some slack, because once in a while people do need to sleep in, skip the workout, eat the chocolate, ignore the phone, watch a mindless television show and go to sleep. (That's called a bad day, and everyone should be really nice to themselves on those days!)