Our rapidly changing world can be overwhelming or cause for celebration, we get to decide. Most days it feels like a combination of both and our choice comes in how we respond. So what happened to getting comfortable?
As humans, we gravitate toward comfort. We like predictable routines and outcomes as it gives us a sense of comfort and control. AND, it can make us numb or stagnant. As technology and the waves of change propel us toward seeking “comfort”, I’ve been wondering why it doesn’t really feel comfortable. I’m getting older now… shouldn’t I settle for being more comfortable?
While in the throws of challenge and struggle, we are called to be creative; to put on our thinking caps and do some real-life problem solving. We are called to work hard and to step out of the familiar; to get OUTSIDE of our comfort zone, no matter where we are in the life cycle. Emotional and physical comfort choices show up regularly. Pay attention and notice when you are called to push out of comfort.
In my own world, I have found evidence of trouble with comfort in three ways: I don’t have to, I don’t want to, I don’t want to let go. A week with the Niyama Swadhyaya (self-study) helped reveal this.
I Don’t Have To (I am too comfortable)
When I moved into my current home, I was alone. It was hard to do everything by myself, but I managed. Things like yard work, salting icy steps, setting up & taking down patio furniture, managing faulty appliances, and so on. Now I am blessed with a partner to share these tasks and others with, which is wonderful. However, it has made me lazy. So now I don’t take care of the things HE does, such as generator maintenance since HE does that. I’ve gotten complacent and stopped trying to figure out some household dilemmas. As a result, I can barely remember how to even start the generator. Since HE takes care of that, I don’t have to.
I Don’t Want To
As a responsible adult, there are many things I do that I don’t want to… and then there are some things that I don’t want to because it might make me uncomfortable. I don’t always do the things that are hard and cause me to struggle; things like rushing to go anywhere, getting up to exercise before work (I need my beauty sleep), running uphill, walking the dog in the rain & snow and then washing & drying same wet dog, taking piano lessons, dusting, playing my husband in backgammon (and losing of course). I could take that class, or ask for help, or commit to healthier choices but it feels hard. Only if I conjure up a healthy dose of the Niyama Tapas (discipline) can I break through.
I Don’t Want to Let Go
Of course I want to grow and have new experiences and learn new languages… but I like watching Netflix and sipping red wine and having chocolate in the afternoon. You mean I have to let go of these things? Sometimes the discomfort of letting go of physical things helps to get the momentum going; like cleaning out a closet. As with most things, it is easier to spot the “trouble” of letting go in someone else. I was recently with a relative who’s clutter and stuff got under my skin; it made me VERY uncomfortable. I almost didn’t go since I knew of the discomfort involved. It was a choice and I would have missed out on a wonderful visit if I hadn’t let go. It also prompted me to look at my own stuff and see what I could get rid of: stuff, habits, beliefs. The Niyama Aparigraha (letting go) in action.
“There should always be a healthy tension between the life we have settled for and the desires that still call us. In this sense our desires are messengers of our unlived life, calling us to attention and action while we still have time here to explore fields where the treasure dwells.” – John O’Donohue
Self- improvement is a mainstay for many in my generation. But how do we improve if we don’t change and grow? How do we get out of our own comfort zone, just enough to try? What if we do our best to honor the life that is showing up here and now while also listening to what calls and challenges us; what summons us? Can we find just enough comfort without being trapped in the ruts of our own creating? The frequent news of sophisticated virtual reality and artificial intelligence overwhelms me but it also reminds me to breathe, to get on my mat, stay present, compassionate, and positive in any way possible. It helps me to celebrate being alive. It reminds me to listen to what is calling me out of my comfort zone and into the fields where the treasure dwells.