Most of us are prisoners to comfort. Our lives are shaped, adjusted, and optimized to experience all sorts of pleasure. Take the common experience of taking a dump. The toilet seat is not too high or low as to elicit discomfort while sitting or squeezing. The lighting is soft and there are usually good smelling agents to mask your butt smell. The toilet paper is soft and textured for easy excavation. If you are in Japan, the toilet will even shoot water on your cheeks while playing soothing music. The removal of the poop only requires pushing a handle and sometimes no work at all with automatic flushers. After the disposal, you wash your hands in water that required no effort to gather. I love a good bathroom experience just as much as the next fricker but it made me think how we get use to all the luxuries in our life.
Being an adult has a lot of perks. Many of these perks include choice: what to eat, when to sleep, where to vacation, what we live in, who we spend time with, etc. Of course we don’t get everything we want but on a daily basis we do a good job at being comfortable. I love being able to make choices to optimize my day to day life. The problem with comfort is that we can quickly adapt and become use to our hedonism. This adaptation happens because we become accustomed to stimulus overtime. For example, the comfy bed becomes the norm, the running water becomes the norm, the after-work ice cream becomes the norm. These small comforts are great but we tend to desire more comfort stimulus overtime. That stinky hotel that you thought was the beezneez when you were 20 is now replaced with the Hilton. The shower head that cleaned you countless of times is now in the trash replaced by ShowerHead10000XSuperMax. Is it bad to increase this comfort? What is wrong about wanting to stay in a Hilton?
Inherently nothing. Who doesn’t want a shower head that mimics Niagara Falls? There is a problem though when comfort is not countered by the uncomfortable. We need contrast in our lives so that we avoid hedonic adaptation and the ever increasing desire for stimulus. Being uncomfortable is not a popular pursuit but it is so essential to a happy life. A great example of this is when the lights go out during a storm. We take for granted the comforts of electricity and in its absence we are uncomfortable. But when those lights turn on again there is a rush of euphoria that is quite pronounced. Another example would be camping. Sure, you may have a great time (or not) but everyone would agree that going home to your own bed feels like heaven. This is because the stimulus changed and we had enough contrast to forestall the adaptation process. This concept can be applied to everything. Is your sex life dull? A lot of people may go for a bigger and better sex stimulus. No need. Just take a break and let that stimulus become novel again. House to small? Most people would say get a bigger house. No need. Make it a goal to use half your house for a month. After that your brain will explode with all the available space. Use contrast to better your life, limit excess, and experience optimal happiness. Comfort, although awesome, is a drug and can be poisonous-consider this an intervention.