Michael Easter’s book The Comfort Crisis makes the argument that our way of life in America is too comfortable relative to our ancestors. He argues that in some cases, we’ve gone too far with making sure we’re always comfortable and that it’s negatively affecting our physical and mental health.
Easter outlines 5 broad areas of comfort and suggests how we might address them. Here’s a broad outline of his ideas along with some of my own thoughts:
- Do really hard things. Occasionally do something extremely hard—so hard you feel like you might not accomplish it. Very much along the lines of David Goggins or Wim Hof, both of whom say that we usually quit at just a fraction of our potential. These types of challenges are intended to build mental strength more than physical. They provide good stress that fortifies us and give us confidence for when life throws us challenges that we otherwise might feel are too hard to overcome.
- Being bored sometimes is good. Boredom creates fertile ground for new ideas. It forces us to know ourselves and be okay with being alone with ourselves. It spotlights the things that we need to work on.
- Feel hunger. Fasting is trendy these days (who would have guessed?) and the science to back it up as beneficial seems to be there.
- Think about your death every day. This Stoics, the Bhutanese, and the Buddhists know what’s up. Keeping death in mind helps us remember how precious life is and what a miracle each moment is.
- Carry the load. Working out should look more like what our ancestors used to do—carrying heavy stuff long distances across rough terrain. Our gym workouts are mostly strength focused and isolate our muscles in unnatural ways. We burn fewer calories that way and excercise fewer muscles.
Check out the book for more. It’s well written, engaging, and goes much deeper than what I’ve written here.