Why You Need to Read The Comfort Crisis by Michael EasterJan 12, 2023
The 21st-century world is built around comfort. Cars prevent us from having to travel long distances on foot, food is available at all times, and most of us sleep inside man-made structures that shield us from the elements. You may count yourself lucky to be living in the modern world, but Michael Easter’s book, The Comfort Crisis shows us how we pay a higher price for luxury than we are aware.
Everything that improves our health comes with some form of discomfort. Exercise, and controlling eating habits, these tasks keep us healthy, but they are not fun or easy. It’s not a default to control food intake or exert unnecessary physical force. Humans have evolved to seek comfort. Our brains get a dopamine hit when we eat or avoid exercise. So in order to survive and thrive in the 21st century, we need to adopt behaviors to offset what we are naturally wired to do. The Comfort Crisis breaks down the necessary actions to maintain health and keep ourselves out of the deadly comfort zone.
Do things that have a 50% chance of failure
The human brain hates to fail. This fear is completely understandable when we look at the evolutionary reason behind that. Humans used to do physically challenging things all the time in order to survive, like hunting giant mammoths or picking up scraps from a lion. The modern world has completely removed these life-threatening activities from our daily life, but evolution moves slowly. The fear of failure still remains in our brain, and we fear all failures like we fear death.
The only way to counteract this is to get used to failing. Do things that have a 50% chance of failure, and reflect on where you might be selling yourself short due to your fear of failure. The stakes are no longer life or death, so it’s safe to push ourselves a little.
Bring back the Rite of Passage
Most cultures had trials in place to help get a person from point A to point B in their personal development. These trials were normally faced during a moment when a young person was coming of age. There is a sweet spot of adversity that is faced in life. People who face too many challenges in life experience negative effects on their mental health, but people who face no challenges are unable to function and adapt to life.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a position where we have to engineer adversity through rites of passage. Whether you want to go on a walkabout or try and accomplish a physical challenge of some sort, it’s important to seek out rites of passage to help you develop strength and resilience in the comfort of the modern world.
Redefine Fitness and Nutrition
There are hundreds of fad diets circulating around social media. They often center around making a certain food group evil, and they tend to work about a handful of times. When people lose weight on fad diets, the body responds with hunger signals, and they jump off the bandwagon.
Redefine nutrition by ditching the fad diets. Only 20% of eating is driven by real physiological hunger. Eating brings comfort to the body through dopamine hits. We counteract this by getting comfortable with the discomfort of not eating all the time. Learn to read your body and understand which hunger cues are real and which ones are all in your head.
The modern world also strives to make exercise comfortable. The human’s physiological superpower is the ability to endure. Humans can run long distances slowly, but persistently and without stopping. The human body was built to endure discomfort and cover vast stretches of the African Savannah. So maybe ditch the sterile gym a few times a month and get yourself outside for a long-distance hike or run.
Be Grateful to Be Alive
The Comfort Crisis isn’t meant to glorify a time without technology, it’s meant to bring together the best of both worlds. Combining the convenience of the modern world with the challenges of earlier times creates the ultimate opportunity to live an optimal life. We are lucky to live in this time of convenience and comfort, as long as we have the ability to step outside of it every once in a while and allow the body to do what it was built to do, survive.