It’s incredibly easy for things in life to stagnate. The world is full of people who got too comfortable, stayed put, and settled into a life that was alright, but probably not what they dreamed of.
There are some big questions about what makes people happy over the course of a lifetime, some of which I felt were answered perfectly in a brilliant TED talk about what makes a good life. The major point in this talk was that relationships can define our happiness. Building up solid friendships, staying in touch with family, ensuring you tell those closest to you just how much you love them; these things all matter. The issue is, when you become stagnant, you stop caring. When you stop caring those amazing relationships you have built around you start to crumble away. The worst part is the proportion of people who are stuck in this place, and it’s a rut that feels almost impossible to get out of.
Everyone has had moments where they don’t want to get out of bed. When the world seems like way too much to deal with. What makes this even more difficult is when it becomes a daily occurrence. This is the reality for so many people, and there’s no doubt about it seeming damn near impossible to fix. A few years ago I read Freedom from the Known by Jiddu Krishnamurti at a time when I felt optimistic about the future but weighed down by the present, and to be frank I didn’t really have a clue how I felt about that. I really immersed myself in some of Krishnamurti’s ideas about letting go of things that weigh you down. I did my best to let go of unnecessary pressure, which is probably why I never read the final chapter of the book, much to my shame.
For the sake of not sounding lazy we’ll say that I took a lot from the book and not finishing it was a gesture toward ensuring those concepts wouldn’t become a static addition to whatever knowledge I had amassed. I wanted the ideas to continue evolving and developing, and hoped they would help me out with the day-to-day bullshit that drags us all down. Sadly, I did get dragged down in day-to-day bullshit, and I stagnated, and these ideas became stagnant as well. I forgot about how to let go of what weighed me down most, as the book had attempted to teach me, and once again I became comfortable in some of the worst ways.
The idea of comfort is something we are sold on a daily basis: Quick meals, smart technology, automated versions of everything. However, a problem arises when you wonder what good ever really came from comfort. Honestly, think about it, what has been achieved by comfortable people? History’s greatest achievements all came from people who had ideas that were too big to sleep on, people with a passionate drive to do something, people who did not want to settle, or couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, being comfortable feels brilliant, but that’s exactly why it’s dangerous; comfort is addictive, and like most addictive things it is best in moderation. The fact is that comfort isn’t synonymous with satisfaction, and it’s certainly not synonymous with happiness.
So how does this relate to the fact that I quit my job? Well quite bluntly, I don’t want to be stagnant, and I certainly don’t want to get comfortable if it isn’t making me happy. I want to find satisfaction in the things I do and ensure that I don’t let the passion I have for so many things drift away. I want to be actively building a life I’m proud of, and that is why I quit. I sat down over the Christmas holidays and realised I was happier than I had been in ages. I was doing things I wanted to do, and I was with people that mattered. This contrasted with life in an alienating city on my own and a job that drained every ounce of creativity from me, both of which made me unhappy. When it came down to it and I was nudged toward the door, I didn’t kneel down and promise to put aside what I wanted if they’d let me stay. No, I took my chance to make a change and set myself free.
I’ve got my priorities in order, and happiness comes out on top. Bob Dylan supposedly said that “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do” and my plan is to do exactly that. Some of that in-between time will undoubtedly be moments of comfort, and some of it will unfortunately involve being weighed down by unavoidable day-to-day bullshit, but on the most part I want to be doing everything I possibly can to be happy. I won’t let life stagnate, I can’t, there is simply too much I want to do.