Years ago, when my wife and I were first learning to sail, we spent a lot of time sailing around in dinghies.
The Orange Coast College of Sailing and Seamanship in Newport Beach was our school. With dinghies we learned the sailing basics, how a boat feels under sail, and how to react to those sensations.
Tipping the boat was also part of the course. And by capsizing, aspiring seadogs like me had to figure out how to get the boat turned back over.
This exercise contained other lessons too such as how far we could push the boat before it tipped over and, probably most important of all, that the consequences of tipping over are not as severe as you might think.
It’s a drill that pushes the comfort zone boundary. Pushing that boundary helps craft a more confident sailor.
And that boundary was where my wife drew a sharp, bright line…
Happy Wife, Happy Life
As we sailed around the gorgeous Newport Bay Harbor, the more the boat heeled over, the louder my wife’s concern grew. Which meant that every now and then we audibly balanced my desire to test the limits of the boat with my wife’s desire to stay dry.
She won, of course. We always stayed dry. And learning a thing or two about our personal limits, I stuck with the curriculum while my wife decided she’s more comfortable as a passenger.
We all have our comfort zones. Some are bigger than others. But no matter how big your comfort zone may be, a rewarding aspect of life lies in finding ways to push those boundaries out.
Which is what The Comfort Crisis is all about.
Embrace the Suck
I listened to the book on my drive back from Hilton Head Island last week.
Recently published, The Comfort Crisis points out how most of us in the developed world never experience hunger, extreme temperatures, significant physical effort.
Moreover, helicopter parents of the 90s morphed into snowplow parents removing any potential sources of failure or obstacles to a child’s self-esteem. Though the book doesn’t go this far, I can’t help but consider the masses of ideological snowflakes clamoring for safe spaces as symptomatic of this hyperbolic aversion to risk.
In short – most people are soft and fragile.
But we don’t have to coast through our days in constant comfort. We can systematically layer discomfort into our lives to cultivate mental toughness. The Comfort Crisis got me thinking of things I can do to push out my comfort zone.
Being comfortable with discomfort provides more than personal enrichment. It’s a critical life skill. And with uncertainty becoming a permanent feature of many aspects of our lives, we all need as much comfortability with discomfort as we can muster.
Anyone drawing a straight line through the geopolitical and economic stability of the last several years and projecting that trajectory forward is biasing comfort over reason.
The financial, economic, and geopolitical conditions of today bear no resemblance to the status quo of the last several decades. Thinking so reflects a fragile worldview built on a fragile prosperity. And rejecting the facts on the ground is symptomatic of an aversion to uncomfortable thinking.
To see things as they are without relying on yesterday’s lens will push you beyond the momentum of the past and out towards reality. It will force you to look critically at what worked in the past. When you find something that no longer works, cast it aside no matter how sacred.
Then focus forward. And get comfortable with a new, less fragile, perspective.
At least we get to watch.
Think Free. Be Free.
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