Comfortably Numb

Comfortably numb - image for article by Greg Alder

What is it about comfort that has most of us addicted? We want a comfortable bed to sleep in and a comfortable chair to sit on. We want to wear comfortable shoes. Some of us want a comfortable bra. In winter, we like comfort food.

We want to live in a comfortable house. We want to be comfortable in our relationships. We want to feel comfortable in social gatherings. We want to be comfortably well off.

We like to walk at a comfortable pace – and over a comfortable distance. We want to bathe in water that’s a comfortable temperature. We want to feel comfortable in our own skin.

If we are in the hospitality industry, we ask guests if they are comfortable. If we’re in the dental profession, we ask patients if they’re feeling any discomfort. A redundant question.

We’re so obsessed with comfort, so comfortable with the idea of comfort, that it’s killing us. It’s killing our sense of adventure. It’s killing our openness to new ideas. It’s killing our passion for exploring the unknown, for pushing boundaries.

Only one stroke separates snug and smug. We’re smug in our comfortable state. We’re pleased with ourselves for achieving the comfort denied so many. Once there, we settle in. We wrap our comfortable routine around us. We avoid people and situations that are unfamiliar and different. And so the dying process begins.

We humans are creatures of habit. We find the easiest and fastest way to do something, then we do it that same way habitually. The same route to work, the same sandwich from the same takeaway joint, the same shirt and tie combination, the same same same same …

We flop onto life’s couch and never get up again.

Somewhere outside our comfort zone, magic is happening – or waiting to happen. Many of us never give ourselves the chance to discover it.

Somewhere out there is the other half of our potentially great idea, the essential half that makes it a whole, that gives it meaning, that makes it unique and new.

No pain, no gain. We know the phrase well. We use it. But many of us don’t live by it. We want the gain without the pain. We want the big, bold ideas to be delivered with the pizza we order habitually every Friday night.

We want the excitement of discovery, and wonder why it doesn’t show itself on our occasional walk to the fridge and back.

Some people are old at 18. They’ve stopped discovering. They’ve pulled the shutter down. They have no interest in meeting new people or ideas. They live vacuous lives.

Some people are young at 80. They never stop discovering. They’re open 24/7 to new experiences. They live abundant lives.

I think you can guess which group the innovators belong in, which group has an endless flow of ideas, which group is powered by a creative fire.

The fact that you’re reading this puts you in the latter group. If you were in the former, you really couldn’t bother reading anything.

So, if you don’t want to stop discovering, here’s one thing you must do. You must stop yourself getting too comfortable.

Comfort numbs us.

Who wants to go through life anaesthetised?

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