Blog: Are You Confusing Comfort with Happines

This week’s piece is going to be more about sharing an insight, in part to “switch things up” from my typical novels, and also because I’m back in school (to complete my Master’s in Psychology) and balancing life this week hasn’t exactly been flawless. So far though my family and I are alive, fed, and well so I consider the week a success, even if there are tumbleweeds of dog fur flying around the house.
Moving on to this week’s insight…. are you confusing comfort for happiness? I know I sought constant comfort when I was experiencing anxiety. I thought anxiety was the enemy and comfort was the answer – it’s an innocent mistake the best of us fall into. But eventually I saw how constantly seeking comfort was making me miserable. In an effort not to experience anxiety, I avoided everything and everyone that I thought might trigger anxiety, shrinking my comfort zone to my house (and then my bed). So often we get caught up in trying to “manage” anxiety because we assume if we don’t feel it, then, and only then, we will be “ok” or “happy”.
But let me ask you this – weren’t some of the happiest moments in your life accompanied by some fear or apprehension? I know mine were. In college, I signed up for a wildlife biology study abroad program in Kenya, Africa. I was excited all summer, but when the day finally arrived, I got cold feet. I begged my parents not to make me go, but they had already paid the bill so that was the end of that conversation. I cried the ENTIRE ride to the airport. While my four months in Kenya were not without their terrifying poisonous snakes and overwhelming open air markets, they were also some of the most memorable moments of my life. Almost ten years on, the friends I made in that study abroad program remain some of my closest friends today. Another example, when I moved to Maine to train to become a whitewater rafting guide I was SO nervous my first day on the river that my instructor could barely hear me squeaking commands over the sound of the rapids. But guess what, that instructor ended up becoming my husband and we've never looked back. The point is that some of my happiest and most fulfilling life experiences have happened while fear and anxiety were present, and I bet that’s true for you as well. Remember that fact next time you catch yourself feeling a little addicted to being comfortable.