The Perils of Comfort

One can find wisdom about almost any topic just by seeking what others have said about it. Someone, somewhere, has expressed a profound pearl of wisdom on the subject simply by uttering a few words. The following quotations comprise three such profound expressions about the perils of being comfortable with one’s position or condition in life.

Comfort can be dangerous. Comfort provides a floor but also a ceiling.  ~ Trevor Noah
Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place you belong.  ~ William Wheeler, screenwriter
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.  ~ Lao Tzu ~

These three gems emphasize the hazards of complacency—the acceptance of known comfort over potentially life-altering distress. That is not to say one should automatically abandon safety and security wherever it is found. Yet choosing adequacy instead of taking risks can be a risk in itself. Avoidance of the possibility of failure or pain can carry with it unintended avoidance…of success or advantage.


Act too quickly and you might find that you’ve made a mistake from which you cannot recover. I have learned that lesson more than once—which means the lesson did not register the first time. Or the second. Or the third. For example, early in my relatively short exploration of personal financial investment (in the absence of a competent financial advisor), I got some hot tips about stocks that were almost guaranteed to increase exponentially in value. A $1,000 investment quickly dissolved into a value-less waste. I could not sell shares of the stock, even at the collective putative value of less than $10.  That lesson was repeated, with equal impact, a few more times. Thanks to the insistence of my late wife, I finally paid heed to several earlier lessons.  Years ago, I did not act on my enthusiasm for buying a very expensive (in my financial context) piece of art I loved and believed would quickly escalate in value. She gently insisted that I acknowledge I had little to no expertise in art investments and that our money could be put to better use elsewhere. I have no idea now of the identity of the artist or the current disposition of the art; in hindsight, though, I recognize the $5,000 we did not spent on a piece of art was an important contributor to our nest egg. Today, even if I were to learn the art had escalated in value into the millions, I would still be comfortable with the decision we jointly made. It was a rationale one, unaffected by unchecked emotion.

Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea, off and on, of buying a self-propelled recreational vehicle. Those multiple lessons about acting too quickly have served me well as I contemplate that possibility. The purchase of such a vehicle would be an expense; not an investment. Unlike the purchase of real estate,  the reasonable expectation of which is the reliable appreciation in value, buying an RV comes with the expectation of both enjoyment and probable depreciation. Acknowledging that, whatever decision I ultimately make will be made rationally. And knowing that emotion can take hold of one’s better judgment, I know better than to decide, either way, too quickly.  For some people, the expenditure of  $100,000+ for an RV makes good sense for many reasons. It might represent a second home, for instance, that provides an opportunity for lease income form a primary home. For me, though, that kind of expenditure could conceivably represent a financial mistake from which I could not recover. So, before I make the call, I have to remove as much emotion as possible from the decision. That’s the key lesson. Forcing oneself to extract emotion from important decisions to the extent possible. Easier said than done, of course, but worth the effort in the pursuit of solid happiness.


I read a piece yesterday, courtesy of, about diacriticals in the English language. I wish diacriticals were used more in English. They are extremely helpful with understanding pronunciation. Plus, they look nice. 🙂 Here, for my own reference, are some important bits of information extracted from the article:

Acute Accent

Grave Accent
à la carte


maître d’hôtel



About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to The Perils of Comfort

  1. Meg, I’m still learning…or trying to learn…how to pronounce those sounds that are completely foreign to both my ears and my tongue.

  2. Meg+Koziar says:

    Humm. Seems I can pronounce tildes, (an ny sound), and an acute accent (caf ay, fi an say) but not any of those in between. Yikes, I’m “ill letter it.” In Danish I knew that an o with a line through it is said with the mouth held differently (hard to learn) , but I have no idea how to properly pronounce differently the e in creme or crepe.

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