The Power of Adaptability

There is something a little brave and perhaps a little unconventional about choosing to live uncomfortably. Though comfort can be subjective, the idea of living in a state of constant ease is what my cozy North American clique seems to strive for: the car that will heat your seat in winter, the home filled with everything you need to always feel like you have comfort at your fingertips, the weekends at Costco to stock up on years of supplies so these material gains can assure all your needs are perpetually met. 

Though I do enjoy the occasional "perks" myself, I am still in awe of how much people are attached to comfort and shy away from any kind of discomfort whatsoever. As if discomfort is a disease of some sort. 

And if the topic is brought up, the usual response I receive is "Why would you CHOOSE to suffer? THAT's crazy!". 

By now, I am already familiar with my status as an outcast from the mainstream basics out there. Those who follow trends for lack of a better taste and/or imagination and who associates the power of adaptability with a weakness in character. For them, simply knowing that you can get better, faster or stronger satisfaction from something is enough to convince them that anything lesser is simply settling or accepting defeat.

One of the many gifts travel has offered me is this ease to adapt to different situations and not be attached to a norm of comfort. Sleeping on the ground in a tent with 6 strangers in the middle of the Sahara desert was not what I had imagined when I signed up for a "private tour" but it turned out to be a spectacular experience. The tarps lining the tent walls kept the inside warm, the ripped foam padding we laid on was comfortable enough for everybody to fall asleep and the sound of the desert wind gusting outside would drown the snoring from a fellow tent buddy. Sadly, one couple who were miserable from the onset bogged their own Sahara experience from their inability to open their mind to try something outside their comfort level, even for one night. 

What I have actually noticed is how letting go of this attachment to comfort has shaped my life even when I'm not traveling. To systematically seek out things that scare me and to do it anyway has been a necessity while traveling and is now a very big part of my non-nomadic life. Having resettled back into my hometown of Montreal for a few months, I have moved twice already during this short time back. And each time, having to readjust to a new surrounding challenges my own power of adaptability. And truthfully, I know I am making many life decisions (such as starting my own business, opening up to new markets, constantly traveling or moving around) in order to keep my power of adaptability in check.

And whenever I went outside the boundaries of my own limits, I learned that comfort is learned and limits are illusory. 

The idea of being too "comfortable" has always bothered my social conscience. And perhaps my Buddhist side has also taught me that life isn't always about receiving, it's also a little about simplicity and acceptance of imperfect, inconvenient, painful situations, especially if it requires a little give on your part. I truly cherish how blessed and lucky I am to be able to even have comfort as an option. But I certainly do not want to be dependant or expectant of it. 

If I know that I am in control of what my own boundaries are, my power of adaptability is easily adjusted and reinforced. Difficult situations are easier to handle and letting go of any dependence on goods or circumstances to would shape my happiness level prepare me on how to react under duress. As a lifelong traveler, this aspect is what will continue to bring magic into my life, by seeing challenges as opportunities for growth and new experiences. 



JournalLucy Shih