Yesterday found me at a beloved spot in good old Southern California: the beach.
Ah yes, the beach. Whether on a lake, the banks of the river or the Pacific Ocean... most of us have experienced that magical strip of sand that meets some body of water and extricates a bit of joy from deep down.
Most of us have also discovered the other truth about the beach...
It can be pretty friggin' uncomfortable.
The sun can get blazing hot... the water frigidly cold. And that sand? It sticks everywhere and rubs itself everywhere and makes a mess of things... everywhere.
So why do millions of people plan their vacations and free time around something that is so darn uncomfortable? Because deep down they've figured out an important lesson...
Sometimes life just isn't about being comfortable.
Think about it.
We spend a whole lot of our life, most of it I'd suggest, trying our best to succeed at one big goal: being comfortable.
We want comfort now, we set ourselves up for comfort in the future, and we sure as heck don't want to repeat any discomfort we've felt in the past. And so:
- We take the higher-paying job so we'll never have to worry about paying the bills. We don't want to feel uncomfortable about money.
- We avoid hard conversations with our colleagues or friends so as to keep the vibe positive. We don't want to make our groups uncomfortable.
- We go with the restaurant, movie, and travel route that we know so as to assure a good time. We don't want to get into an experience that's uncomfortable.
And what happens?
- Money worries continue because, well, they always do...don't they?
- Our awkward dynamic with our colleague continues because we never talked a troubling incident through
- Our usual routine feels fine (or not), but there's a sense that there could be...more
I can guess what you're thinking.
Yes, there are plenty of times when the goal of comfort makes sense. We don't like to experience pain or awkwardness or fear. We have families and responsibilities. We hate feeling exposed and vulnerable.
And so we make plans and choices that assure us our best odds at being as comfortable as possible.
Perhaps the goal isn't always to be comfortable.
Perhaps another good goal is to be curious ... about what other opportunities and experiences are out there.
Perhaps a bit of discomfort, vulnerability and risk are actually worthwhile costs, and we shouldn't automatically push potentially uncomfortable choices aside.
Perhaps we can even welcome discomfort into our lives, because we know we might just learn, do or experience something amazing as a result.
Sure, sometimes the consequences won't be worth it in the end. But sometimes they will.
So perhaps it's time to change our thinking about comfort. And discomfort.
After all, sometimes life might simply be about frolicking in the waters of the Pacific, knowing that the sand will get everywhere.
Sure, we'll be exposed and vulnerable (more so than most other destinations, yes?). But we also know it'll be a blast. Plus, we'll get to do it with lots of other exposed people who traded a little comfort for a whole lot of fun.
Recognize how many decisions are about the goal of keeping things comfortable. Recognize those times when comfort might not be the most important thing.
Try just one little thing that makes you uncomfortable in some way. Then try another.
And think about what new experiences might just be coming next. Comfortable or not.
Now, go do good...and do it well.