The comfortably numb trap
I went to Mexico in May 2016. One of my best friends was getting married, and I went down to attend the ceremony and also to get away and relax for a week. I booked an all inclusive resort that was really a dream to stay at. All inclusive includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and entertainment. Everything is done for you; you are there to relax.
By habit, I was still determined to workout in the morning by shadow boxing on the beach at 7 am, and then swim in the ocean. I noticed that at 7 am, a beach is a quiet place devoid of crowds. Few people are there walking or taking a morning run.
Slowly getting too comfortable
While eating lunch at the buffet on the second day, I thought about how I’m eating more food than I usually do at home. Why? Because it is readily available. I looked around and noticed that many of the people were eating a full 3-course equivalent meal — appetizer, main dish, and dessert.
I noticed feeling sleepy and lethargic after meals. I quickly realized that this was the feeling of full comfort. It was an experience of total opulence. It produced lethargy within me. You don’t do anything the whole day other than relax, so you don’t really want to begin doing anything else. The mind justifies eating desserts because you’re on vacation. But you wouldn’t eat those types of sweets at home out of principle, then why do it here? Shh…Don’t question it, just do it and think about it later is what the mind says. Discipline and will are slowly replaced by comfortable numbness.
Simulation of Wealth
Taking an all inclusive vacation is a great simulator for what it would feel like if you had everything given to you in life right now. You would have servants doing all sorts of things for you. The question is: could you handle it? It’s not easy, and life would quickly become lazy without building personal daily disciplines.
Feeling of Fulfillment
Starting off your morning with fulfilling habits is powerful. Willpower erodes as the day goes on, so use your will on priorities in the morning hours.
On waking up, make your bed each morning. It’s such a simple discipline, but by making your bed, you consciously tidy your room and that’s one small victory that is stored in your head. I know that you don’t need to make it but do it anyways because you’re a leader that takes care of his house.
Workout in the morning, prepare food, get clean clothes ready. Take time to sit in silence and reflect for several minutes. This is your time.Technically, you don’t need to do these things, but these little things are fulfilling and color the rest of your day. No one can take these pleasures away from you. They are yours to maintain, solely for you.
Let’s say you don’t have morning habits that get you going because someone else does them for you. You don’t need to make the bed because a maid does it. You don’t need to prepare food because a to-go menu is available at a drive through. You don’t need to work out or reflect because too much else is going on in life. Consider this: All these luxuries can one day be taken away from you. They are not yours to keep. Once they are taken away, you’ll realize you’ve never built up habits to take care of yourself. It’s going to be a shock because the comfort is gone, and you feel emotionally vulnerable with a loss.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter
“Hurricane” Carter is a Canadian boxer who was wrongfully arrested on murder charges in 1966. I heard this story from Robert Greene’s 50th Law. He spent almost 20 years in prison. That’s enough time to chip away at any man and radically transform him. It would be too easy to become comfortably numb. Your outside communication is barred, you have severely limited freedoms, and your new residence is a cell smaller than a bedroom.
What struck me was how Rubin Carter knew and avoided the comfortably numb trap while incarcerated. He refused wearing an ID badge or things that would make him feel like a number instead of a human being. While other prisoners would be offered perks such as television, radio, and entertainment magazines for good behavior, Rubin would refuse those. They were not his to keep. They could be taken away from him at any point, and that would be a shock.
They could not take away his mental freedom, so he devoured books. His aim was to overturn his conviction. After 19 years, he legally overturned it and was emancipated. He came out a man, but not a broken one.
Opulent yet depressed
I won’t mention specifics, but celebrity lives are interesting to analyze. Fame brings material wealth but puts stress and temptations on personal disciplines. Within a short time span, a person receives much attention and rises to the top. Giving in to the new comforts of life becomes tempting. Certain disciplines drop off that kept them sane, they no longer need. A day comes when a celebrity is no longer fresh. They are no longer in the spotlight and the same withers. To cope with the harshness and escape the unbearable, alcoholism and drug use set in to counter the anger and the sadness. Robert Greene and rapper / businessman 50 Cent mention this aspect about the music business in The 50th Law.
I’m down to sell records, but not my soul — 50 Cent.
In the End
I absolutely recommend going to at least one all-inclusive hotel resort to feel how it feels. It is marvelous, yet seductive in asking you to take it easy.
Don’t take my word for anything. Dedicate time in your life to studying role models that are powerful and healthy in their life choices. Read up on their daily habits. People like Jerry Seinfeld who still find time to meditate daily, or Tony Robbins who runs through a morning ritual for himself. Check out his series called I am not your Guru (Netflix) just to see his morning rituals. How about Henry Ford, who still found time for physical fitness and to work on his farm while industrializing America with a common car. They did not have to do any of these things. The were opulent enough to skip these or have someone else do the work. I think they realized the dangers of comfortable numbness and knew that these habits were theirs, and only theirs. These habits were a starting point for their daily work that would sustain them. No one could take these habits away from them.
Originally published at www.basicdrop.com on July 4, 2016.