The technological advances and the sophistication and skill-set of humans, has allowed us to build communities that are very comfortable. Of course, we strive for comfort. We aim for a life filled with soft furniture, warm healthy food, and a shelter with plenty of space. It seems actually, that a life full of comfort is a life of success. Being the most protected from any threats and natural elements is a situation that most of us have a desire for.
However, stress and discomfort is actually what encourages us to grow the most. Placing ourselves on the edge of comfort is how we learn most effectively…about ourselves, and our place in the world. Musculoskeletal growth comes after break down of the fibers has occurred. That break down is due to work, stress, pressure, and discomfort. In a similar manner, a life full of purpose and fulfillment is one that’s full of responsibility, connection to others, persistent effort…not one that’s mostly made up of enjoying the comforts allowed to us. So have we gone too far? Are we too comfortable?
We could say that modern society in the West has led the way in creating all too comfortable environments. The further away from agricultural or hunter/gatherer type of lifestyles we get, the more comfortable we are. The more we allow technology to do more of the work for us, the more comfort we find in our lives. It is extraordinary how disconnected and disengaged most of us are for instance, with how our food gets to us, and where it comes from. We sit in our comfortable vehicle, tell another person what we want…and then drive up to the window. After about 60 seconds, we are presented with a clean package of different foods, and perhaps a toy…all from different parts of the world. These foods were researched, planned, grown, fed, harvested, slaughtered, cleaned, packaged, delivered. And our comfortable position allows us to pay around $5 for a meal and presentation like this. That is awesome in a way. It provides us with the ability to be efficient, and to put our energy elsewhere, considering we don’t have to worry about all of that work for our meal. It comes at a cost too though.
When we become too comfortable…too removed from the source of our existence…further and further away from nature…we distance ourselves more from the natural animals that we are. Our physical bodies are designed to move…to stand more often. Our minds are designed to seek out and find…to aim at a goal and pursue it. Without progress and some confrontation with the ‘natural world’ (and that phrase needs to be defined), we go against our own natural evolution.
‘Well,’ you might be thinking, ‘maybe we’re evolving into something that needs pursuit and discomfort less and less. Maybe that’s what we’re destined to become.’ We certainly are doing that. With generations of folks living in more and more ‘comfort’, we’re definitely modifying our genes, and developing more into a being that is more suited for an agreeable environment. I would argue that this weakens our species over time. It’s making us soft. A cynical perspective might be that as we rely more and more on technology…as we create more and more sophisticated technology, and bring AI, and machine learning, and robots into the fold…that we’re creating our own demise in the process. At the end of that road, we either aren’t necessary, or only necessary for a power source. I don’t even like to think about that type of situation.
Instead, I like to hold a more optimistic outlook on our future. I believe that we will continue to keep a balance of comfort and chaos. I recognize that even as soft as we’ve become within our societies, we are smart beyond belief…we are incredibly tough in the face of the most tragic of adversity…and we understand that we still need that balance. We know that rest and respite are necessary…but are much more deserved and even more enjoyable when we deserve it…when we’ve worked and confronted and progressed. The ‘sitting down’ has a much deeper meaning after taking multiple deliberate steps.
Look to achieve a minimum amount of comfort that will allow you to function effectively. That’s not deprivation. Awareness is key here. After that minimum is defined and discovered, continue to apply pressure, stress, chaos…at maximal levels of allowance. Again, self awareness. When we walk that line…on the edge of comfort…it’s a constant battle of getting a little uncomfortable…and then finding that situation acceptable. We consistently move the bar, and allow ourselves more stress…more growth. It’s at the place between chaos and order. It’s the yin within the yang. It’s the path.