Comfort is not Happiness (Dummy!)

Comfort is not Happiness (Dummy!)

Really the title says it all. I don’t see what this cantankerous (but sweet and lovable) amphibian (am I technically and amphibian?*) needs to add to make it more obvious. But for the sake of non-readers (my readers are smart enough not to need me to explain), I’ll go into greater detail.

You see, here’s the thing: We’ve been lied to.

Marketing and all those people that encourage us to take the easy road have been operating under the assumption that we’re happier when we’re more comfortable. That’s why we have these ridiculous contraptions that literally create optimal atmospheric conditions to make us as comfortable as possible while traveling long distances in adjustable recliners. And that’s coming from a turtle. Did I mention I carry my home around on my back?

So I haven’t convinced you with the whole cars thing? How about getting frustrated with a program that Literally Types For You and Corrects Your Mistakes, Typos, and Misspelling? Yup. We find a way to complain about everything.

But it’s not totally our fault (especially if you’re a millennial: everything bad that’s happened to you is not your fault and you deserve everything good that’s happened to you. No really, I mean it**). We thought technology would solve our problems. We said to ourselves: “I hate digging dirt! It’s so uncomfortable! I get tired and sweaty and dirty and it’s hard and my back hurts and there is dirt under my fingernails! Waaa! If only a machine would dig dirt for me instead of having to do this myself, I could finally be happy!”.

And now someone sits behind an Amazing Contraption That Moves More Dirt Than You Could Imagine*** thinking: “I hate moving these levers to dig incredible amounts of dirt, I have to spend time outside and worry about breaking this machine and spend my time doing tasks someone else tells me to do! If only I had a job where I was in a comfortable air-conditioned office where the only exertion I had to make was typing on a keyboard, then I would finally be happy…”. And all of you sitting in a cubicle wasting time reading this blog and looking over your shoulder so your boss doesn’t catch goofing off know how futile of a thought that is.

Being comfortable doesn’t make us happy. Digging dirt, though potentially uncomfortable, can make us happy for various wonderful reasons like improving our health, getting outside, exercising, achieving something (you moved dirt! High five!), helping people and more! Now, that doesn’t mean that comfort is a bad thing. In fact, a concept which I call Feasting and Fasting is essential to human happiness.

Often, suspiciously often, it’s the hard things that make us truly happy. When we study hard for a test and succeed or take on a difficult project at work and exceed expectations we are happy. Even the difficult parts, the studying or working are actually moments of happiness, we are just so unaccustomed to experiencing True Happiness we barely recognize it when we see it.

On those days when we help a friend build a patio in the summer heat, we are actually having a Grand Old Time. Or that time you ran a 5K for the first time ever in your life, that’s happiness.

But if you take some time to examine the examples above, or think of some from your own life, you will come to the unusual conclusion that happiness actually comes from discomfort *Gasp!*. We are closer to real satisfaction when we forge a path through difficulty than when we take the evil Path of Least Resistance.

So next time you have the choice between the elevator and the stairs – consider the stairs. When you encounter that difficult co-worker and could pass by without a hello, choose to give them a friendly greeting.

You might be surprised at how much better your day gets when it’s filled with difficult things to do…


*I am an amphibian! See here! Apparently, my skin can withstand desiccation. I didn’t know that. Also, desiccation means “a state of extreme dryness” which is not nearly as cool as I thought it was when I first read that…

**I don’t really mean it. Ha!

***Check out this terrifying monster.

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