Inside the comfort zone

The edge of the comfort zone is reputed to be the most productive place. It doesn’t mean you could, or should aspire to live there. And yes, pushing your limits can be good and exciting, but if you have to do it all the time it turns out to be relentless and exhausting. There should be no shame in seeking comfort and in wanting to be comfortable.

It is worth asking what comfort means. For me, these are the experiences that give something to us, gently. Comfort is nourishment, it soothes and affirms us. Our bodies need time to rest and recover. Learning requires downtime for us to digest and process. We actually grow more, improve more if we have downtime to consolidate that. None of us do our best anything when we are out at the edges all the time.

Comfort is highly personal and depends a lot on needs. For one person, comfort might be an afternoon of baking. For another person, it might be the ready meal that means you get to eat when you are otherwise barely coping. 

Comforts may take the form of things that look trivial to other people. We should be less judgemental about this. I note that the kinds of things women find comforting – romance novels and soap operas for example – tend to be treated as trashy. Taking comfort in watching sport and drinking alcohol is assumed to be manly and often gets treated with a lot more respect. The pleasures of the wealthy tend to be treated with more respect and admiration – yachts, horse racing etc than the pleasures of the poor – beer, cigarettes TV, etc. We’re far quicker to defend the rights of the wealthy to their planet-killing leisure activities than we are to defend the rights of poor people not to work themselves to death.

We all need time to be lazy. We need time to heal, reflect, regroup, recharge. People whose comfort choices seem problematic from the outside are often people who are suffering from a lot of pressures and a lack of resources. Exhaustion and poverty are going to impact on what you can do to comfort yourself. 

Rather than judging people for their lifestyle ‘choices’ I’d like to see a greater move towards considering what shared resources we have, and improving that. Green spaces, sports facilities, libraries, and cultural spaces can all offer comfort and opportunity, where we invest in that for the benefit of all. We need to recognise that poverty is stressful and that there are consequences. We need to stop treating hard work as virtuous and wealth as a measure of whether you should be working hard.

Everyone needs comfort. Everyone needs rest. I wonder what would happen if we started discussing comfort redistribution, and health redistribution, rather than focusing on money. Perhaps that way there would be more collective understanding of the implications of wealth and poverty.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “Inside the comfort zone

  • jswhite

    Love this. Comfort redistribution sounds divine.

    There are a lot of people in my own sphere who’s manner of comforting themselves seems problematic to others and from a health stance, they probably are (junk food, sleep, alcohol, shopping)…but they’re limited in their resources and their time. Vacations are something none of us can afford and really, unless people fall to overindulging or illegal activity, who cares as long as it helps you get through the work week and the daily grind, right?

    Not everyone enjoys the same things as relaxation or self care, nor should they. We are individuals after all.

    • poetthatlikesvellum

      Simply enjoying the conversation. One question I wanted to pose in response, however, at what point does such exposure to junk end up negatively impacting our health, creating more waste, tire an already tired medical system? Though these things of our idealized existence may be readily available are they the best investment, of time and energy, when their end product is more junk and waste? Is making such things more digestable and more affordable for the end purpose of capital a form of harm and destruction? If it were recognized as criminal, as it is, without more education and information readily available for some, should it persist, when the end is morbid? It is a part of our idealized existence that some have built up, and would make no sense to other beings in nature. A chimpanzee doesn’t know what a dorito is. The idea of capital makes no sense. Again, if you were to try and explain currency to a chimpanzee what would the process of telling them that they have to give over a piece of paper before they can touch bananas that are visable on a treelimb look like in real time? And if we made that whole system was supported by a network of lawyers and billoinaires, wouldn’t it make us search for something beyond that type of existence?

      It makes me think of this ted talk:

      • Nimue Brown

        I think the underlying issue here is poverty. if we allowed vulnerable people sufficient resources to live well, this wouldn’t be an issue. It’s exhaustion and lack of spending power that push people towards problematic comforts, and this is one of those areas where we need systemic change, not individual action.

    • Nimue Brown

      Tackling poverty is key, definitely.

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