Awhile ago an incident took place while I was headed for work. Two gentlemen got out of the lift at the basement. They again quickly and forcefully hopped back in prising the almost closing doors open even as they were pushing others rudely out of the way. They pressed zero and got out just one level up mightily relieved. They would not even have had to climb 16 steps had they walked. But this is an almost everyday occurrence where people are unconsciously stagnating in the name of comfort. But is it really comfort that we are after or is it something else. And what are the repercussions? It’s time we try to gain a clear understanding of our habits and the subsequent consequences.
I am sure many of us are familiar with the story of the butterfly. A man watched with sympathy as a butterfly tried to struggle out of its cocoon, each movement arduous and long. The man decides to ease the butterfly from its cocoon but once free the butterfly is weak and dies. The man is heartbroken when he realises that his good intentions were a curse for the butterfly. He later understands that the struggle and effort was necessary for the butterfly to survive. He had interfered with a natural process that would have helped the butterfly strengthen and prepare itself to fly and survive in the world.
We relate to comfort physically as our ability to be at ease, free from pain and constraint. Mentally, as an alleviation of grief or distress, and materialistically as having enough monetary resources to purchase what we need and want. While every human being strives for comfort and ease as a way of living, we must own a clear understanding of what real comfort entails.
Our biggest fallacy is to mistake laziness for comfort. This pseudo comfort is a trap and a major contributor of life style diseases such as excess weight gain, obesity, hypertension, hormonal imbalances, chronic stress, insomnia, digestive orders and serious illnesses. The body’s function can be generally divided into two states, voluntary and involuntary. The involuntary or autonomic process of the body is directly affected by our voluntary actions. And the comfort that we rely on so heavily in the voluntary phase by choosing stagnation is a major deterrent to our well-being.
I want to simplify the state of comfort as pleasantness. Real comfort or pleasantness lies in having a strong, fit and healthy body. Examples of pleasantness are your simple abilities to tie your shoelaces without effort, taking a flight of stairs without losing your breath, walking you dog, playing soccer with your five year old without getting irritated, not have to take pain killers for minor aches and pains, waking up refreshed after a good night’s sleep, enjoying a meal only when you are hungry, fitting into your clothes comfortably, etc.
The basic road to a healthy and fit life is rather simple, we tend to overcomplicate things. Regular exercise, nutritious and well balanced food, a happy state of mind are not as hard to accomplish as we have made it. The understanding unfortunately for most of us tends to come too late. We then seek quick fixes and complicated answers when we are in pain and discomfort. We think of slimming clinics, detox retreats, superfoods and supplements, specialists and clinics and continue to choose to evade walking a flight of stairs and instead prefer to wait for the elevator!
Human endeavour has been to make life easier but it has come at a cost to the body. I am not against technology. Far from it, I salute the advancements we have made in every sphere of life. Our life spans have increased but I definitely don’t think that the purpose of this increase in life was at the cost of destroying its quality. It’s time we clearly understand that real comfort first comes from within. It lies in choosing the best way of living whether it means you exercise today or laze on the couch, what you eat – whether it comes from a plastic packet or is nutritiously made at home, whether you take that elevator or run up the steps, whether you keep your kids busy with TV or take them outdoors for a hike, whether you pop a pill at the slightest discomfort or go to the cause and eliminate it.
Make that choice today to make conscious choices. Question whether the comfort you so automatically seek is benefitting you or crippling you?
Sandesh Palungwa Limbu, Certified professional fitness instructor, founder of RAGE Fitness, and specialises in mixed martial arts.