I get startled up by my queer alarm signal; it’s 3:35 a.m as I wake up with scrambled thoughts, wondering and trying to figure out why my alarm has gone off at this ‘unholy’ hour (if it wasn’t for a technological glitch from my phone or one of my frequent mistakes). After a few seconds of bewilderment, it suddenly hits me—It’s my first day at work (and I’ve got to make a good impression).
This was way out of my comfort zone but I’ve got to do it, because according to the cliché, change is inevitable. It has the possibility to go in either direction—positive or negative, but change, it has to.
The daily actions that happen in your life, either deliberately rolled into play by you or the results that arise from uncontrolled circumstances determine the direction of change. Whether you desire it or not, change embraces you and if you’re not in the driving seat that controls your daily actions, you lose the power to steer change in the direction suitable for you.
Comfort is, generally, a state where you are at ease with a particular aspect of your life. It is a relaxed state, either physically or psychologically, where you have no unpleasant feelings that cause worry, pain, fright, etc. Comfort is usually allowed because the factors of life around you at the particular moment dictate that that is the state you should be in at your level of emotional, physical, and mental capacity.
For a while, being comfortable in a state is tolerable by you and the people around you. However, if you rest on your oars and decide to remain comfortable in such a state for too long, in which it is clear you shouldn’t be in, you become a menace. A little baby that cries when hungry or distressed, in any little way, gives an innocently cute appearance. On the contrary, it becomes an eyesore for a teenager to cry loudly when in a slightly distressed state such as hunger.
I’d be considering comfort from two perspectives:
- The generally-accepted comfort
- The desired comfort
The generally-accepted comfort is a state where a person should have achieved what, normally, is the status quo. Like the illustration earlier on— a child at birth is expected to cry. That is generally accepted.
The accepted level of comfort makes you quite a normal person. Normal in the sense of ordinariness—everyone is expected and can do what you do; there is no shine or distinction to the state that you are in. Even if there is, it wanes off after a short while and you drop back into the category of the ordinary. You might be celebrated for a while if you don’t have competent competition. However, when the competition becomes tough, fierce, and close around you, people realize that your state was not too spectacular, after all, for your capacity. You were just on the spotlight for that moment, which made you spectacular.
Accepted comfort is generally set and measured by a large number of people. Most times, it is difficult or almost impossible to break the norm because the elements of change are way beyond your control. Only people who are inherently ‘gifted’ in some way,—which I must clearly state are extremely rare—clearly stand out at this generally accepted level of comfort; for example, someone gifted with a beautiful voice. Even for the ‘gifted’, a great deal of effort is needed to keep their distinction from the ordinary; else, they lose their peculiarities.
Desired comfort on the other hand is more subtle. For most of us who aren’t ‘gifted’, to break out of the general accepted level of comfort, you have to desire a level of comfort. This has been the secret of very successful people. Where they lack in inherent distinctive traits, they compensate in hard work, training, and education. They desire a level of comfort which is higher and different from the generally-accepted level of comfort. They fight their present generally-accepted comfort and strive for the desired level of comfort and they score and thrive as successful.
A desired level of comfort is set by just one person or a very few select people. Either the select few urging an individual, or an individual urging himself, or a group of people working as a team. Most times though, even with a group of people, it ultimately falls on the shoulders of just an individual to attain an intended level of desired comfort. Success falls back to the battle between you and yourself only.
As humans, we are naturally resistant to anything that threatens our comfort psychologically or physically. The mind has two responses to such threats—to either flight or flee. Most people are accustomed to fleeing from anything that threatens their comfort, making them remain in the category of being generally accepted. They flee from having to do more than the usual work, from having to wake up earlier than the usual, having to go farther than the usual training. When such a person is hesitant to go beyond normal levels of comfort, he/she inevitably categorizes himself/herself as normal and receives the normal results that every other normal person should and has.
The irony, though, is that the generally-accepted status is subject to change too, and all the time. With advances in technology and knowledge, history get’s broken at a rate that seemed very unnatural in the past. Thus, the levels that were once generally accepted now become obsolete. For example, a few years back, only a few people were comfortable with being computer literate. It was generally accepted to be computer illiterate. Now, the generally accepted comfort level has changed; everyone now at this present age is expected to be computer literate—even at the stage of understanding and using a programming language. That is now the generally-accepted level, which is going to be raised soon. By choosing to remain in generally-accepted levels, a person falls even below the generally-accepted level and the decline continues. Stagnation is not permitted. The more such a person flees from changes that threaten his/her comfort, the faster they slip down the slide of their desired comfort.
Until you put your foot down to realize that you have the capacity to fight and win changes that threaten your comfort (even beyond your perceived capacities), only then, can you reach your desired level of comfort. What better way is there to go about this than to pick the fights that change your comfort yourself and take them head-on, than to wait for them to suddenly besiege and overwhelm you. When you pick these fights, you are in control because you fight by your rules and you steer change in your direction.
Even the desired comfort at some point becomes obsolete and one has to set new comfort levels or the decline starts.
What level of comfort are you currently accepting? Is it the generally accepted level or the desired level which you have set for yourself? You have to constantly ask and answer this, because change is upon you, even now, and it’s threatening to fight your comfort.
Flee or Fight?