Comfort in discomfort

Last night we had a bit of time to spare before our movie was on at the theatre, so we were waiting in our car when I couldn’t help but care about a noise coming from the car next to us. Like us, there were two people sitting there, but their engine was running.

Their car was a hybrid so it wasn’t running to keep the engine warm, it was running to keep the participants comfortable. This was extremely perplexing because it was the perfect temperature where you couldn’t tell whether they would have the air con on, because they were hot, or the heater on because they were cold. We were perfectly fine sitting there windows shut, just relaxing, for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why anyone would have any heating system on.

Which got me thinking. From what I’ve seen, in recent years at least, modern Japanese people prioritise personal comfort over everything. And I mean everything.

They often prioritise a comfortable job with security over challenging themselves even slightly to better themselves or their company.

The same goes with heating in houses (although a lot could be said about the lack of insulation and extensive use of kerosene), and using air con in summer.

Of course it sometimes can’t be helped, I often use the air con if it gets unbearable. But I’m talking about the interim between seasons, when with just a little bit of discomfort you can live without using any energy.

Then again with driving too. I’m not sure if this is just where I live, but often people change into the lane they need to be in as soon as they can, even if they don’t need to for a couple of kilometres.

What happens then is that in lanes that are left-turning but you can also go straight on, people jump into it prematurely, causing a long line in the left-turning lane, with next to no cars in the lane over that goes straight. If everyone going straight used that lane, there’d be much less build up of traffic. But that would mean they’d have to change lanes further on down the road, which is a no-go for some odd reason.

Either way, I’ve come to realise that putting a bit of discomfort in your life can lead to more comfort overall. I’m not saying to do things that bring discomfort for the sake of discomfort, rather employing a bit of discomfort can really help you out. A clear example would be exercising for long-term health, or forgoing using heating for a bit of financial gain or to toughen yourself up.

This is also a benefit provided through Yamabushi training. The Stoics talk about having the scantiest of clad, and only eating what you need for your survival. Yamabushi training is one way to do this that gives you a bit of discomfort, but allows you to really appreciate the comfort you get when you have it.

I could go on. But I think you get the point. Slight discomfort now can and should lead to comfort later.

(This might be the same in other countries, I just haven’t been there).

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