Think of it this way – would you rather be homeless today or 200 years ago? Being homeless is of course terrible for anyone at any time but 200 years ago it would have been incalculably worse. There are comforts in this life for everyone in most societies that are taken for granted. And no one notices them.
Easter had the realisation in his own life that he was more than comfortable in fact too comfortable. This comfort however, did not make him happy. A study he quotes from the Japanese government stated over 500,000 young people in Japan refuse to leave their bedroom. These are the same young people that report higher levels of anxiety and are more likely to suffer from depression.
So what is going on?
We’re too comfortable. We as humans need to push against something. We need challenges to overcome. If we don’t have them we slide into a funk. Think of tigers and lions at the Zoo. If they are just given meat they most likely won’t eat it, they need the hunt. They need the struggle to feel like they have earned their prize. We humans are the same. In the modern era it is possible to never leave your bed if you have an internet connection. You can work, order food and socialise without moving a muscle. And some people at the extreme end of the scale actually live like this. However the rest of us are still on that scale, living lives with too much comfort and not enough struggle.
Surely comfort though is the name of the game? Are we not all trying to make our lives easier by removing barriers for ourselves and those close to us? According to the author this is a crisis that no one really notices. We need that discomfort to feel alive. We need to have something that challenges us. None of us need ever be bored again. We have at our fingertips every piece of knowledge ever gathered by humans. But being bored is imperative. Pushing through boredom is where enlightenment resides. Distraction from boredom is like junk food for the mind according to the author. We must resist this junk food. When we are bored we will eventually look inward where we can become reflective, creative or just calmer.
Easter is a big believer in getting into nature, what is known as ‘forest bathing’. After 3 days of it, he felt a noticeable drop in his stress levels, his senses were dialled in and he felt connected to nature.
There are some great lessons in this episode about how we can audit our lives. The author speaks to a Buddist monk who points out that those of us in the West are obsessed with living by a checklist….we have 10 pairs of shoes, we want 11. This checklist is a false hope. We think we can finally be happy once the list is complete. But we all know deep down that happiness is really just one decision away.