What does it mean to be “comfortable” in life? And, more importantly, is “comfortable” what you should be trying to achieve? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately as I look around my apartment and think about the changes I’m planning to push forward with in the next few months. When I first got out of college and took my assignment here in Savannah, I immediately went about creating what I thought was the ideal, “comfortable” life. Leather couch. Cool rug. Big screen TV. Nice speakers. A cool pub table for friends to mill around. From those humble beginnings, my quest for the “comfortable” life kept expanding. Within a year and a half I was in a bigger apartment that needed serious patio furniture. For entertaining of course. So I scored a grill and some teak patio furniture from a friend and threw it all out there. I was definitely getting close to “comfortable” now. What more could I possibly want?
But then I started looking at how I use my space. The pub table gets used for meals occasionally, but my living room table or desk more often than not works just as well. I haven’t had cable for almost two years, and I definitely don’t miss it. And the sound system is definitely overkill for my iPhone. The most valuable piece of furniture in my apartment: my bed.
Yes, on the surface, all of those items increase my comfort on some level. But they also increase complacency. It becomes easy to sit back and say things are good enough as they are. We’ve always been taught that the vast accumulation of new and cutting edge stuff will increase our happiness and dull the rough edges of our lives. You see this played out ever day in the pre-planned communities sprawled across America, complete with their multi-car garages and a hefty mortgages to boot. Yes, for some, this is what they’ve always wanted in life. And once they have it, life becomes a simple matter of make sure their stuff inside is up to snuff with everyone else. George Carlin had a great skit that covered this.
I think there’s a fine line between comfortable and free. With the accumulation of items that don’t add to your happiness, you only end up making it harder for yourself to seize a moment later and take advantage of opportunities in life. Your stuff more often than not can end up weighing you down and pursuing what you really want out of life. So look through your “stuff.” And really ask yourself, what do you value? What’s important to you that’s worth keeping? And if there’s something you’ve felt like throwing out for awhile, get rid of it. The world’s a boring place when everyone’s comfortable.
Next week I’ll share with you the kind of “stuff” I value, and my plan to simplify my possessions to facilitate a more interesting life.