The War on Comfort: How Your Survival Instincts Are Sabotaging Your Success

For the first time in history we find ourselves at a place where living a long, comfortable life is a foregone conclusion.  Even the poor in this country have most of their basic needs met.  (I’m talking about the overwhelming majority of people.  I know it’s not true for everyone.)  Instead of focusing on survival, we face a new frontier where the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment becomes a necessity.

Why most people settle for a comfortable life

Once you reach the point where you have a steady job and stable income, you settle into a comfortable life.  You have free time, hobbies, you get to take trips, go out to dinner, etc.  Your survival instinct tells you not to jeopardize this.  You are safe.  Things are stable.  The conditions are right for you to settle down–find a wife, have kids, save for retirement—in survival terms, stay alive so you can perpetuate the species.  Reproduction is the highest goal of the primal brain, the lizard brain.  This is how all animals, including human beings, are hardwired.

If you “risk” your comfortable existence, you might lose the stability and put your survival in jeopardy.  That is what the primal brain is telling you.  It’s why you feel fear when when taking a step into the unknown.

What will people think?

You also feel fear because people are social beings.  We survived the millennia because we banded together to form families and tribes.  If you go off on your own and do something different, you will shake up the order of things.  You will stand out.  You might not be welcomed back into the tribe.  You won’t be one of the herd anymore. At least, that’s what fear is telling you.  The reality is much less extreme.

What’s the worst that can happen?

So what’s the worst that will happen if you do something unique with your life–start a business, make your art, say something important?   Somehow I doubt you will starve.  You may have to keep your job for a while longer or move back with your parents for a brief period.  That’s about it.

People always fear the worst but the worst rarely means your life is in jeopardy.  The successful people who had their worst fears realized along the way–going bankrupt, having a failed business, running out of money–are usually grateful for having gone through that tough time.  They learned, became wiser, and moved on.

Thankfully the worst no longer involves you as dinner for a pack of hungry cheetahs.  The worst is rarely as bad as we fear.  And it is oddly liberating should we ever be blessed enough to endure it.

The secret of the successful few

For most of history, happiness was not a priority.  Survival and reproduction were the main drives.  But being comfortable does not equate to being happy.  There’s a battle happening inside your head.  The reptilian brain is afraid to risk comfort and stability, but the conscious brain wants more.

The people who live truly extraordinary lives and enjoy wild success are the ones who are willing to risk momentary comfort in order to achieve more.  They don’t cling to the first mediocre opportunity that they stumble upon.  They believe they have the power to shape their lives and the world.  They are willing to risk it all in order to get there.

The truth is we are all naked before the world.  Our time is limited.  The successful ones are the people who understand this and set out to do something amazing with the limited time they have.

Are you willing to risk your comfortable lifestyle for a short period of time in order to live an extraordinary life?

photo credit: bryanwright5@gmail.com via photopin cc