The Cost of Progress is Comfort

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Moving forward, getting something new–it always requires a sacrifice.

No pain, no gain.

Usually, we think we will have to give up our time or money. We are prepared to meet these demands.

These are trinkets compared to the real price of change:

Comfort
Security
A sense of belonging
Confidence
Relationships

This is the real cost. This is what you will be asked to give up, to lose, at least temporarily.

Looking back over the last several years of my life, I realize that every significant step forward has come at the expense of the comfort of where I was. It seems to be a law of nature.

You cannot discover new oceans without losing sight of the shore.

Make no mistake, when the last sign of shore disappears and you find yourself bobbing in the middle of an unfamiliar ocean, it is terrifying. Even if you hated that old shore, you will suddenly long for its trees and sand and bugs and storms. You will remember it all fondly; you were the king of that damn beach!

We have to endure this moment of loss and all the fear and sadness that comes with it.

We have to give up to get more.

I gave up home, family, and friends to move to Florida. I did it again to road trip America for a year. I’ll have to do it again when we make our next move this summer.

When we go back to school as adults, we give up the confidence of knowing who the hell we are and what we became when we grew up.

When we go into marriage counseling, we give up the comfort of knowing the rules of our relationship, who is right and wrong and how the victor is decided.

When we commit to losing weight, we give up part of our identity: funny and fat, fluffy but fun, uncomfortable in our clothes but bonded with our peers.

I posed this question on Facebook a couple weeks ago:

Think back to the BEST changes in your life – what did it cost you?

Eight people talked about the decisions they’ve made–to move, to go to school–and shared what they’d given up. Nearly everyone mentioned comfort or comfort zones. Nearly everyone said it was worth it.

But ooh, baby, is it hard.

I keep coming back to change being hard because I need to remind myself that resistance is a sign that I’m moving in the right direction. It’s tempting to turn away from the pain; hell, it’s instinctive! If it is so damn hard, it can’t be good, right?

We can’t use difficulty to determine whether or not we’re moving in the right direction. If we never endure the discomfort of change, we’ll never enjoy the the exhilaration of knowing it was worth it. After progress feels bad, it feels good, and we want that. I want that.

What, then, can guide us, if not our natural aversion to pain?

Our dreams, maybe. Our best versions of ourselves. The values and goals we write down when we are not afraid.

Maybe our fear. Maybe our fear and discomfort are our best guides.

We’ve just got to close our eyes and lean into it.

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  1. Hockeymandad says:

    So where ARE you guys going this summer? Perhaps I missed it…

  2. niki says:

    Great post – and I agree with you – it’s the loss of comfort that people have the hardest time with.
    I think the best thing we can do is reframe our discomfort and instead try to look at discomfort as confirmation that we are growing in the best direction.
    If we can remember that (1) our discomfort is temporary and (2) our discomfort is validation we are growing, then perhaps we can get more ok with it.
    Thanks for pointing all this out!
    == niki

  3. Nanna says:

    I think remembering your dreams is a good indicator. The thing is that we can trick ourselves into telling ourselves that our dreams are, after all, stupid. And that is the highest form of self-abuse we can heap onto our own heads.
    Nanna’s most recent post: Convince Them That They’re Not Alone

  4. I so needed this today. <3
    Karen Sugarpants’s most recent post: Growing Up All Over Again

  5. fiwa says:

    Forgive me, but I’m on a yoga kick right now. I’ve been thinking lately about how some things that you do or hear in yoga relate to life in general. Like when you settle into a pose that is uncomfortable, how your immediate urge is to freak out a little and think “that hurts, I should stop”. But if you let yourself relax into it, it doesn’t reeeeally hurt. And that whole “breathe into the spot that’s in discomfort” – maybe that’s a life lesson. There is always going to be pain and discomfort in life. But if we breath into and accept it, settle into it and accept it, we can grow and change because of it.
    Ok – touchy feely yoga moment over now. ;)

  6. Brit, have you been talking to my shrink behind my back? Because I daresay, regarding one very specific aspect of my present life, this post is the crux of what he’s been trying to get through to me….that the unknown scares the crap out of me even though the present is/was (still working on it) a definite bad that needed to be addressed; that change is hard, and unpleasant, and scary, and all the rest. But you’ve got to wade through the shit, learn to accept the shit, get past the shit…all to get to the good. That’s the goal, anyway :)

    Thanks for this post, and the reminder from someone else who is living it.
    tracy @mamacreates’s most recent post: it does more than just hold clothes.

  7. Ever since I began writing again I have pretty much given up TV, but that was no real loss. The biggest lost is the time spent with my wife. Instead of spending time together watching glee or one of the other few shows we can both agree on, I’m more likely to be propped at my computer desk after we put the kids together. She understands and is supportive, she knows I need this creative outlet, but that is a sacrifice.
    Corey Feldman’s most recent post: Sam teaches Egret and Mocha how to paint

  8. truer words were never spoken:
    “Even if you hated that old shore, you will suddenly long for its trees and sand and bugs and storms. You will remember it all fondly; you were the king of that damn beach!”
    hello haha narf’s most recent post: No Cast Necessary

  9. Discomfort and hardship are the major things we “get” when we choose to change our direction to find our so-called happiness. It’s never an easy task I agree. But without these two, we’ll never really taste the sweetness of our journey.

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