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Are You Too Comfortable?

Feb 27, 2024

Can You Be Too Comfortable?

 

We, as a society, are the most comfortable people there have ever been. On the whole we live lives free from the disease, famine and privation our ancestors faced. We live longer healthier lives for which we can be grateful. Comfort is a blessing. But, unchecked and unappreciated comfort can be our undoing.

 

Dopamine is the only currency our brains recognize, all of the different varieties of things we experience as comfortable and pleasurable, boil down to this single chemical. In one way or another, our behavior can be understood as the quest for the next hit of dopamine. The basic driving motivations of life, food, shelter, reproduction are powerful because that dopamine response has had millions of years to evolve and engrave itself into our circuitry. Any habits we develop, good or bad, are built on the same cycle of trigger and reward. Do something, feel good.

 

Dopamine is essential for happiness, but our brains are not evolved for the free, unlimited dopamine stimulation our comfortable lives allow. In unregulated amounts, dopamine saps our motivation for growth and our ability to take pleasure in life’s simple joys. We lose the ability to delay gratification and deal with stress. Instead we become obsessive dopamine zombies compulsively engaging in highly stimulating activities that progressively bring us less and less satisfaction.

If you’re a Catholic, you recently began Lent, a period of voluntary fasting and self-denial. But even if you are not observing a religious holiday, occasionally stepping back from comfort gives us the opportunity to ask ourselves, ‘Who’s driving this experience called life? Am I really in charge or do I just react to my impulses?’ It’s easy to feel in control when we don’t have to choose between pleasure now and gratification later. Choosing to go without the things that make us comfortable lets us affirm that our actions are our own and that we have the power to make changes in our life.

 

Ready to give it a go and unplug?

 

What makes you comfortable?

Think about the things in your life that make you comfortable, not just physical comfort but mental comfort as well. Ask yourself ‘On a scale of 1-10, how difficult would it be for me to go a week without this?’ 



Examples of Physical Comforts

  • Rich food
  • Sleeping in
  • Warm showers
  • Sedentary Living

 

Examples of Mental Comforts

  • Mindless entertainment
  • Superficial social connection
  • Casual drug use (yes, including coffee and alcohol)
  • Shopping

 

Having trouble deciding? Ask yourself, if you could make yourself 100% immune to the discomfort would your life be better? If the answer is yes, you’ve found something worth practicing.

 

Prepare yourself mentally for discomfort by thinking of the phrases and affirmations you will use when you feel like quitting. What are your reasons for living for a time without your comforts?

 

Examples of phrases and affirmations

  • I’m doing this to have a healthier life.
  • I’m doing this to build mental strength.
  • I’m doing this to remain positive under pressure.

 

If you want more exercises to build healthy habits and develop mental discipline download the free guide on building mindful habits.

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