Comfort Will Not Give You Meaning In Life

Many people plan their lives around the pursuit of comfort. Whether it comes to work, relationships, or day-to-day living, all decisions are made with the goal to increase comfort while decreasing discomfort. The problem with this approach is that comfort does not provide you with meaning. You can have all the comfort in the world but still feel bored, unhappy, or depressed.

In 2006, I was in a state of extreme comfort. I shared a big house with two other people, had a stable career that wasn’t particularly demanding, owned a car and motorcycle, and was able to take exciting vacations abroad. I had no urgent concerns besides securing my next instance of sex from weekends jaunts into the city. I achieved pretty close to the modern ideal of comfort, and yet I saw little value in it. Would comfort inspire me? Would it make me a man? Would it give me even the tiniest scrap of life meaning? Within two years, I got rid of most of my possessions and went to South America, the beginning of an ongoing tale of nomadism.

Hostel in Barcelona, Spain (2006)

Today, I find myself again in a state of extreme comfort. I live in a cozy apartment in the center of an Eastern European city, earn a basic but livable income from book royalties, and receive a mostly stable supply of sex. I experience little anxiety or genuine difficulty from my living situation. Was the point of my decade abroad merely to reproduce the comfort I had before I left? How was the same flavor of comfort able to find me again? Am I destined to grow old without ever having real concern for my survival or material existence?

Is it not degenerate to seek comfort, of desiring to sit and relax while expending the least amount of calories possible, where your muscles physically degenerate, and where you have to artificially simulate a non-comfortable life by lifting weights in a corporate gym? The drive to comfort may simply be a relic of our childhood, where we rushed to our mother’s bosom to isolate ourselves from a world that exposed our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Comfort is a need for mother and the safety she provided us for the bulk of our lives, of running back to the first safe space we have ever known.

Margarita Island, Venezuela (2005)

The first time around, I made comfort a goal, but the second time I did not. When your ability to earn a livable wage surpasses a certain threshold, from being born in the resource-rich West or having a competent IQ, comfort will be a part of your life whether you like it or not, and any attempt to fight it will just reinforce how comfortable you really are. We live in a time where food and resources have never been more plentiful for the average man, so we will not face the survival difficulty of our ancestors no matter how hard we try. We are the house cat that can return home whenever things got too cold or dangerous outside.

Right now I’m faced with a decision of remaining in my comfortable Eastern European environment, where I no longer have to work hard to enjoy its rewards, or go somewhere different, challenging, and slightly more uncomfortable. In the past, I would pick the challenging environment to satisfy an ego that was desperate to prove it can overcome hurdles through hard work and intellect, but I no longer have anything to prove. All that’s left is asking if I want to grow old in a fashion so stable that most of the lessons I’ve learned in life will never be called upon for my survival, or if I want to venture out into the unknown and live a slightly more raw and spontaneous existence.

Hvar Island, Croatia (2016)

Either way, I know that if I deny comfort today, it will find me soon enough. Stepping foot in another new country will be like going to Corporate Gym—I’ll get an intense but short workout before walking back out to sit and eat and relax and consume limitless entertainment. My ability to earn a modern wage means that comfort will always be waiting for me. When the world outside shows me its teeth, I know that mommy earth is always ready to take me into her arms and make things comfortable again.

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Jonathan Jones
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What about accepting the Persian Fire of your ancestors, which manifested as the Logos of the Apostolic Faith after 33AD? That has been a deeply felt and real meaning for many tens of millions of people – doesn’t mean it’s “real”, although I think so, but at a minimum it is worth seriously considering.

Bavieca
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Dunno man, our cavemen ancestors developed projectiles in order to escape the discomfort of getting themselves gored to an early grave while going melee with mammoths and woolly rhinos.

Same thing about light bulb and running water, not sure whether deliberately putting oneself into pain and misery equals being manly.

Paulie would vehemently disagree though ‘It takes guts climbing back in that ring, knowing you’re gonna take a beating”.

Man on a Mission
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Comfort doesn’t give you meaning but contentness which is perhaps the closest thing to happiness.

Meaning in life can only come from a mission.

Man on a Mission
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Man on a Mission
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Meaning in life can only come from a mission.

M_
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M_
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Get a dual sport and go out with nothing but a back pack and extra fuel. I have plenty of trails near where I live and go out every weekend. No cell service and friends only have a vague idea of my whereabouts. If my bike breaks down, if I take a tumble and get hurt, if I come across a grizzly or cougar, it’s a problem I have to solve myself.

Outside of enlisting and going to a war zone, it’s probably the most danger I’ll ever be in.

Jerry E
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The old adage, “You can’t transform iron to steel without a lot of heat and pressure” applies to the human condition. We never truly learn from our successes, only our challenges and failures. If one looks at points along the timeline of one’s life, one will realize that personal growth always increases the most after failure or periods of extreme challenge and stress. Would anyone trade their perception of who they believe they truly were after surviving a very difficult experience, with whom they thought they were prior to experiencing the event? I think not…..

Bill Sanders
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Bill Sanders
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yet it would be foolish to seek out failure and pain…

Armand van Cakra
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I’m not sure what to think. Maybe for people like you and others who have already experienced enough, you are in another phase of life.

But for me, personally from some time ago I want to do things similar to what you have done. Travel to new place, experience new things, start new life from scratch, etc. Find meaning in life.

I have never lived in other cities, let alone countries for even a single time in my life. Now perhaps it is time to make a dead bat of myself.

positron1
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You sound like a younger guy who absolutely should do those things before you even think of marrying and settling down. Work toward it at least a little bit every day, and good luck.

Armand van Cakra