Comfort is the soft and cuddly throw blanket. It’s the hat you wear everyday or your favorite hoodie. It’s warm soup your mother used to make. It’s the routine you don’t desire to disturb.
Ahhh. Don’t the thoughts of such comforts feel reassuring?
The problem is that we allow the idea of comfort to always be a positive one. While the comforts we enjoy can be wonderful and fill us with gratitude, they have the potential to provoke a blind eye. For comfort, is a reason given to do something. But this justification isn’t always warranted.
It’s a comforting thought to keep the keepsakes passed down to us, the gifts given by someone who has passed, the old trinkets of our former youth. Seeing them evokes a comfort of familiarity, by way of identification with the objects. We see our pasts through them and we like this because we know our pasts. These stories are comfortable because we’ve heard them before. They may not outwardly prevent personal growth but nor are they essential in the physical form of these objects to keep us grounded in our true selves.
When I was in college, the dorms had terrible mattresses. Most students would buy layers of foam and padding to turn these into soft and luxurious sleeping vessels. My closest friend was a master of this. My reaction? I don’t want to make my bed too comfortable or else I will have trouble getting out of it in the morning. I’m not kidding. I had this thought and lived by this rule. I was a good sleeper and tended to have earlier classes so this seemed like a practical idea, albeit an incredibly weird decision for an 18 year old to make. It certainly was the root of some of my earliest minimalist tendencies and realization that comfort was not always good for me.
My closest friend lived with me in the dorms sophomore year. She still jokes about how I would immediately pop out of my bed the second my alarm would go off with almost robotic precision. I get it, I was (am) a bit unusual in some ways. But I bring up this story only out of real world application. We drown ourselves in comfort at the expense of, well, expenses. We pile up stuff, old and new, to feel that sense of familiarity. But there is a downside: from overspending, to distraction … to oversleeping. The more sparse our belongings, the more clearheaded and directed we can be in our actions. The more living we can do.
It also allows some space for luxury. When we do experience that thing of contentment, when we do allow space or that special something to create relaxing conditions, we appreciate it more. It stands out and we can experience greater gratitude. This is a reason not to get used to it, not to get used all the things around us and potentially take them for granted. Seeing the other side of comfort dismantles the narrow view of an idea that doesn’t always serve us well.