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Day 4: Too comfortable to be joyful?

October 18, 2023

According to worldpopulationreview.com, the average number of deaths per day in 2023 is 166,324.

I woke up this morning and took it for granted.

In those 166,324, many millions more people lost someone they loved.

Everyone I love also woke up this morning. I took it for granted too.

Here are some other things I took for granted today:

  • My safe home
  • My access to fresh water and electricity as I prepared my morning coffee
  • The fridge full of food
  • The washing machine
  • My car
  • Our myriad of possessions

Sparking joy through discomfort

I recently started cold water swimming. It makes me feel like a bad-ass and no matter how low I get, every time I swim I remember who I am and what I’m capable of and I remember that the lows will pass and I will be ok.

Not only that, the cold swim makes the rest of my morning feel AMAZING! My warm shower is like a gift from the gods. So is my hot coffee. Both are things I generally take for granted and to which I generally pay very little attention.

Cold water swimming takes me to such a deep level of discomfort that things I normally take for granted become blessings to be appreciated.

Yet my whole life is built to minimise my discomfort and so ANY difficulty or imperfection is highlighted.

  • My safe home becomes a chore to keep clean
  • Fresh water and electricity become things I complain about because they’re so expensive.
  • The fridge full of food taunts me as I try not to over-eat
  • The washing machine represents yet another chore
  • My car judders, which I hate, and I want a new one
  • And our myriad of possessions often become nothing more to me than “more shit left lying about”

The Practical Implications

It feels to me that excessive comfort can actually rob us of our joy – that joyfulness springs from the recognition that nothing in life is “given”.

In western cultures particularly, we’ve become so comfortable as to become ungrateful for and irritated by our privilege. Not enough money…, not the right brand…, someone said the wrong word…, there’s a pimple on my nose…, it’s raining…, this webpage is taking too long to load…

For me, there’s benefit in engaging in uncomfortable practices because it calls my privilege into sharp focus and ignites my feelings of gratitude for all I am lucky enough to enjoy in my everyday life.

I suspect, however, that I need to do more. It seems counter intuitive to seek out discomfort but, at the very least, I need to welcome it when it presents itself and allow it to offer the shade necessary for light to be fully appreciated.

How do you feel discomfort might spark more gratitude and joy for you? 

2 Responses

  1. So many of us take things for granted. When I was reading your blog I realised I’m one of those. It brought home that I need to take a long hard look at myself and be grateful for everything i do have. I think you’ll get a lot of people seeing themselves in what you wrote. Thank you Natalie. Looking forward to tomorrow’s blog.

    1. I’m so glad this resonated. This blog is helping me take a long look at myself too. There’s a temptation to be hard on ourselves when we find these things but I’m gradually learning that the harder I am on myself, the more stuck I get. I hope as the blog progresses, I’ll be able to share more ways to notice these things in ourselves with kindness and make space for positive changes that will make a difference to our own lives and the lives of those we love. <3

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