One night, I ate my daily dose of chocolate ice cream while sitting on the hardwood floor outside my room. I did this because I’m not allowed to eat in my room. I’d grown tired of my other ice cream eating spots—my living room, my dining room—neither of these held any appeal to me that night. Eating downstairs was out of the question, too; I’d just discovered a great playlist and wanted to be near my speakers so that I could really hear it. So, I sat on the floor outside my room. It was a nice change of scenery.
The floor was hard, cold, unwelcoming. It was probably the least comfortable spot I could’ve been in to eat my ice cream that night. Even by bringing a chair into the hall, I would have had far more comfortable accommodations by which to eat my ice cream and listen to the great playlist. But I insisted on that hard floor.
I’m very glad that I did.
Sitting there on the floor—my head rested against a closet door, my legs stretched through an open doorway—the contrast of my situation struck me. There I was, in a spot of intentional discomfort. But, even as I was in a spot that my body didn’t particularly enjoy, my mind was very content—happy, even.
With my favourite treat in hand and the music I enjoy most coursing through my ears, I was taken away from my present, actual situation. I was taken instead to a place where my mind was free to focus and think about the things I cared for. By imposing discomfort upon myself instead of accepting the comfort offered and suggested by others, I’d overcome the great beast of complacency.
Complacency is a risky affair. Comfort—in whatever form it manifests itself for each individual—is the cause of complacency. But the causes of comfort, too, cannot be ignored: laziness, acceptance, and outside pressures. We can’t let ourselves grow comfortable, for when we do, we sacrifice our ability to engage our minds with new stimuli, with new considerations.
In order to avoid comfort, we have to overcome its causes. We must remain active. We must be curious, constantly searching for a truer answer. And we can’t cave in to outside pressures. Surpassing the limits imposed by these causes is the way to avoid comfort—the way to embrace discomfort.
We have to engage our discomfort in order to stave off complacency. The complacent are easily overcome, overlooked, and, ultimately, replaced. In order to avoid those unfortunate fates, we have to act now. We have to change the scenery.
Find your change of scenery. Mine was the discomfort provided by the hard floor outside my room. Yours may be something less, or potentially something far greater. Whatever it is, reach for it when you start to feel the claws of complacency grabbing at you. The change can be temporary, or it could be permanent. It wasn’t one night more before I returned to my other ice cream eating spots. But the key is that I went elsewhere, to refresh my mind and to allow it to take in new considerations. Chances are, even if you return to your old spots after the change, you’ll view them through a newfound perspective. Such perspectives rarely do more harm than good.
Whatever you have to do, do it. Wherever you have to go, go there. And when should you do it? Whenever complacency begins grabbing at you. Chances are that that’s the case right now. It’s time for a change of scenery. It’s time for you to find your own hard floor.
Enjoy the new view.