Written by Beau DeCourcy
The modern world has a lot to offer, and in most cases, far too much for our own good. On the other end, the ‘up hill both ways in snow storm’ mentality is a little too austere. Comfort zones tend to exist on a positive feedback loop. Meaning the more comfortable you become, the greater comfort you seek. Suddenly, a simple chair no longer satisfies, and now must recline, and might as well massage you while sporting a dual cup holder and refrigerator. I’m sure I’m behind on the curve and an even better chair exists, with an “improved” model in the works.
The point of this post is not to demonize comfort, but rather point out that pain and pleasure exist in the contrast of being. A stump will never be as pleasurable a seat as the super recliner described above, but the super recliner will never be as pleasurable without the stump. Both exist on each end of the comfort continuum, and it is in the contrast between the two that pleasure is found. Find these edges of comfort often, but exist there shortly.
Not only should you find your edges, but push them further back each time you can. The further apart you can exist between pain and pleasure, the more pleasurable your life will be. Live austere at times so that living lavishly does not require a $3000 recliner.
Opportunities to push your edges, and engage in ‘comfort zoning’ exist in every aspect of your life. Learn to be cold at times so that warmth is no longer a necessity but a treat. Go without food sometimes (fast) so that even a simple meal becomes a feast. Be in silence for periods of time and music will regain its magical tones. And lastly, engage in physical activity that’s tests your fortitude, and your rest will be more restful.
Creating periodic, but short stress responses strengthen the mind and the body. They build your capacity for life because there is a resolution: get tougher. Seeking only comfort entrains the positive feedback loop and induces chronic stress and weakness because there is no resolution to unending desire. Push your edges intermittently, intensely and briefly.
Most of your life will exist between the edges of austerity and decadence. The greater the contrast between these two edges, the longer and more enjoyable your life will become.