I was struck today by the fact that one of the things that has been holding me back from doing the right thing, from being able to make an impact, was my desire to be comfortable. You see, my desire for comfort has always dictated my decisions. My choices are not based on what is right or wrong, but on which option will provide the least discomfort. I realize now that I can’t live like that. I realize that a life lived for the sake of making a difference, an impact in the world, by its very nature will be uncomfortable.
The problem with comfort is that it keeps us trapped. Once we are truly comfortable, we do everything we can to stay right there. I am not a morning person, but really I just hate getting out of bed, no matter what time of day it is. Once I am snug under the covers and relaxed, the will to move again just goes away. I think that this is true for most things in our lives. Comfort is the great demotivator. It is the lie that the world does not really need us. It is the lie, that there is nothing we can do anyway. So, just stay in bed, comfortable, asleep, and unbothered by all the things falling apart just outside our bedroom door. This is what comfort does to us.
The Paradox of Comfort
The intriguing thing about comfort is that most of us think that it is a motivator. Even though, in the end, it never can be. We all wish we were more comfortable. We wish we had more money, more success, more power so that we could acquire the finer things in life, the things that we believe would give us comfort. The problem is that we are already fairly comfortable, and if we went any further, we could risk losing the comfort that we already do have. Thus, most of us stop where we are and never really do anything more than wish that things were different.
Discomfort is the true motivator
When you stop and think about it, it is only when we are uncomfortable that we take action. The desire to be more comfortable is not enough to get us out of bed, but once our back starts aching and our rest now brings us discomfort, only then are we willing to move. Discomfort causes us to seek out a solution: we are willing to do whatever it takes to remove the discomfort. Now, we are getting somewhere.
More than a selfish pursuit
I have been using the metaphor of personal comfort to make my points, but there is more to life than the selfish pursuit of solving our own personal discomforts. Of course, today’s society is all about the pursuit of oneself. There are hundreds of popular blogs, books, and speakers telling us all about how we can gain personal success, fulfill personal dreams, and live up to our own personal standards. These products may make millions of dollars a year in revenue but they are largely ineffective. You would think that if you had a bunch of people working to better their lives that this would make the world a better place. Yet, what we find is that it has made the world a cold and lonely place.
The reason people whose lives are only about personal pursuits never make a significant impact is because once (if) they get there, they are now comfortable, sleepy, content and largely oblivious to the troubles of the world. Many people believe that a selfish pursuit can have an end result that makes a powerful impact on the world. But nothing good has ever come from selfishness.
Discomfort for others
The only real path to making an impact in your family, community, church, or even the world is to allow the discomfort of others to bring you discomfort. Notice, I did not say that you should be aware of other people’s discomfort; no, that is not enough. You must get to a point where their discomfort is uncomfortable to you. It is only when you share in others’ discomfort that the motivation to act will kick in.
We must stop fearing discomfort and stop thinking that a comfortable life is a good life. No, every great adventure started because of a discomfort that caused action. A good life is one filled with the discomfort that continually drives us to care for people, innovate, and step outside of what was once our comfort zone.