“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”-Aristotle
Sure, comfort is nice—it’s warm and cozy. And there’s nothing wrong with living a warm and cozy life, right?
If you say so…
A cozy life doesn’t have big ups and downs. It’s even-keel, mellow, average. It’s a safe place, and for some people, it’s exactly what they want (like a Baggins).
Hell, sometimes I wish I was like that—life would be easier, anyway.
The problem with a cozy life—besides being boring as hell—is you aren’t ever going to experience anything extraordinary. Also, and this is my opinion, I don’t think you are prepared at all if shit goes haywire.
Think about it: If you are used to maintaining a comfortable little bubble, you’ll never have to “test” yourself or put yourself outside of your comfort zone. You will be conditioned to break when you find yourself staring down as one of life’s tornadoes heads your way. And make no mistake about it: Life throws us all smack dab in the middle of life-threatening tornadoes from time to time.
So really, when you live a “comfortable” life, you are actually setting yourself up for failure. You are weakening your body and mind. You are becoming what Nassim Taleb, author of Antifragile, calls “fragile” (that’s not a good thing to be).
And still, most people convince themselves that they are avoiding problems by “playing it safe.”
But that never actually works.
To experience the “highs” of life, you have to also experience the “lows.” This is life; it comes with the territory. That said, you can have some say in it. You can become better prepared by living a certain way. That’s what I recommend.
So, how do you prepare for life’s storms? This is how:
By getting your hands dirty!
As a kid, you learned by falling down and scraping your knee. Did you stop being a kid because of this temporary pain? No, you got back to it, and fast. Your knee healed and you kept going—and maybe you got a scar that would serve as a future reminder.
After your first broken heart, you eventually see other people. After a car crash, you still drive. And so on.
This is life. It’s a series of ups and down, and it is chock-full of lessons that will make you a better, more resilient human being. Embrace it. Seek it out.
The more you experience pain, the better you get at experiencing pain, and the better you get at appreciating the times when you aren’t in pain. Both are integral for living an effective life.
Start saying yes and get doing. Start that business. Ask her out. Share your feelings. Stand up to your bully. Speak your mind. Write that letter. Ask for that raise. Be vulnerable.
You might think the “safe” route is the “best” route, but you’re wrong. The best route is the one that winds you through the treacherous forest. Because without a difficult path, there is no reward at the end. This is the law of the universe. Things that are worth having must be difficult in their getting otherwise they wouldn’t be worth having.
Plus, the easy path sets you up for failure; for atrophy; for real danger that you might not survive.
Easy is nothing more than temporary avoidance. What’s hard always come for us, like the grim reaper. It’s just a matter of time.
The hard path is where results are, and even, in a roundabout way, where comfort is. The hard path makes you grow, builds resilience, and allows you to weather the storms of life instead of being swept away the current of comfort.
Remember, “easy” and “best” never align.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost
In life, you need to take risks and learn from the experience. Risks are the toll you must pay to cross the bridge into the garden of greatness. It’s also how you best protect yourself from life’s unfortunate, and inevitable, circumstances. The more you endure, the more you can endure.
Taking the path of more resistance requires bold action. You risk embarrassment, pain, and in some cases, death. In the words of Hellen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
If you want to live an exceptional life that is full of abundance and unique experiences, you have to assume risk. You will fail often and hard. Then you’ll have to pick yourself up and go again.
Those who reach success are the ones who have the grit to stay the course when it winds them down the unknown path of life.
Don’t atrophy. Don’t waste away. Don’t set yourself up for failure by seeking comfort. Constantly challenge yourself mentally and physically and you’ll develop the power to have a say in your destiny instead of letting life decide for you.
When you are experiencing pain, torment, and anguish, know that you are preparing for your destiny. You will survive the trial and come out stronger because of it. It is necessary. Then, you’ll use what you learned as a means of appreciating the present and being better prepared for the future.
This is the ebb and flow of life. As you conquer trials and tribulations, you build strength and wisdom. And this makes you a better person that is better at living.
Take action. Embrace difficulty and when something stands in your way, use it as the guidepost to greatness.