A day came when I no longer equated a comfortable life with quality of life. I used to love lying around. I would do movie marathons and television marathons as often as I could. That comes from a good place. I adore getting sucked into a good story that is told well. Also, I used to spend 8 plus hours a day video gaming as an adult. I founded and created 2 different gaming communities online and organized meet ups for these communities. I loved the interaction with other people and the friendships that were built through online gaming. But the dark side that was attached to both of those passions was the massive amounts of time I would spend laying on my butt. If I didn’t choose to have a better quality of life I would probably build my life around doing very little. Even when I read that sentence, it strikes me as a void and empty life. The kind of life one might look back on with deep regret willing to trade anything for another chance to do it differently. Even as I write this I feel completely vulnerable and I can sense shame lurking in the shadows.
A few years ago I was reading Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I stumbled across a line that has haunted me since. “Humans are designed to seek comfort and order, and so if they have comfort and order, they tend to plant themselves, even if their comfort isn't all that comfortable. And even if they secretly want for something better.” He wrote that for me.
All my life I had spent trying to make myself comfortable… safe… secure. I had been succeeding at a pretty high level. There were two problems with this however. The first was that I knew that there was something in life that I was missing out on. I couldn’t shake this intuitive feeling that I could do more, be more, serve more and enjoy more in my life. The second was equally as vexing. There was a shame attached to living my life this way that didn’t come from others. It resided deep within me and no matter what I told myself or did to numb that shame, I couldn’t shake it.
Don’t get me wrong. My profession was one of service. Helping to teach and mold the hearts and minds of youth, both spiritually and emotionally. I was certainly making sacrifices, serving others, and taking a hefty shot of self-righteousness on the side with a solid backer of pride. But every chance I got I would seek comfort. I would constantly pass on the possibility of adventure for a seat on the couch.
After giving this some thought, and finishing Don’s book, something in me sparked. I began to long for more in my life. The fear of risk and failure, combined with the discomfort that I knew I would have to endure in order to create a better life posed quite the wall of resistance. But I knew at my core that I didn’t want to look back on my life in my last days and regret not taking the risks and facing the discomfort.
So here’s what I did. I began moving towards those things in my life that scared me and felt uncomfortable. I sat down and made a list of things I think I might truly enjoy but had feelings of fear and discomfort attached to them. My entire life didn’t change overnight. Many times I backed away from what I knew I needed to charge forward with. But slowly I began to make a decision here and a decision there in the directions that I knew I wouldn’t regret. Even if it meant failure, those choices began to have value for me because I knew it was movement. I knew that If I chose to go the route which scared me and involved discomfort that I would ultimately become a better person for having made that choice.
Years later, I have a much higher quality of life. Interestingly enough, making those decisions aren’t any less fearful or uncomfortable. I don’t think the fear and discomfort will really ever go away. But the difference now is that I can use those two feelings as a guide into my future. I still slip into old patterns from time to time as well. But life is definitely better, more exciting and more aligned with what my heart wants.
What are the things that you know would make your life better but involve fear? What is it that you know if you pursued it would bring a certain amount of discomfort? Maybe those are the things you need to move towards. Nothing in life that is worth great value comes without risk. It’s just a matter of perspective. One thing is sure. You won’t look back on your life and say, “I wish I would have spent more time on the couch.”
If you're looking for a little inspiration in this area today I would highly recommend visiting Clea Shannon's 'From Fear to Love in 40 days'. She is in the middle of an incredible journey that is shaping her future in the most remarkable ways.
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"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair." - C.S. Lewis
"The lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a master." - Khalil Gibran
"Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new." - Brian Tracy