It’s easy to make the case that we are currently living at the most comfortable time in history. A lot of things are accessible to us with a push of a button. From getting information, entertainment, and even communicating over long distances, there’s an app to solve our problems. Though according to our guest, Michael Easter, we are having a “Comfort Crisis”.
According to the US CDC, 73.6% of Americans are either overweight or obese. That said, Obesity is a global problem, with at least 2.8 million people dying from it each year.
Our mental health is not exactly doing great either. Nearly 8 in 10 adults say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives, as reported by the American Psychological Association.
In this episode of Follow Your Different, Michael Easter discusses how we need to be active and outside to have a legendary life. We also talk about how to “embrace discomfort to reclaim ourselves”, and why being hungry is legendary.
The Comfort Crisis
Michael Easter shares how much more comfortable we are living right now compared to before. You don’t even have to go too far to compare; most of our modern-day comforts didn’t even exist a couple of decades ago.
According to Michael, the main issue with all this comfort is that nowadays, getting something you need takes little to no effort. This means have to move around less and being less active. This can lead not only to physical degradation, but mental health problems over time.
“We are moving about 14 times less than our ancestors. We spend 95 percent of our time indoors, and spend 11 hours and 6 minutes a day engaging with digital media. So we went from never having these digital media in our lives to now it’s essentially become our lives. And that’s had consequences for our attention, or awareness, how we spend our time and also our interactions with others. Things have really changed, and we’re too comfortable now.” – Michael Easter
Changing The Perspective
One of the things Michael wants to point out is that we tend to take for granted how good we have it nowadays because we are constantly surrounded by convenience and comfort. We can’t really appreciate them unless there were periods of struggle or challenges to acquire them.
It’s like going to your favorite restaurant almost every day compared to only going after a long and tiring business trip. You tend to appreciate it more compared to when you are having the same thing almost every day.
“We don’t have these moments that push back and are essential. Essentially, what are First World Problems anymore? So I think getting yourself out of your comfort zone in a variety of ways can do that, and give you a little more perspective on your life.” – Michael Easter
Michael talks about how children are raised differently nowadays. Some parents only let their children do what they think is best, rather than letting the children experience it themselves. This often leads to mental health issues when they go out into the world. They can’t cope with the daily struggles and challenges because they weren’t allowed to experience them beforehand.
Michael explains this concept as toughening. He adds that it is important that we insert real challenges in our lives from time to time. Not only as we are growing up, but even as adults.
“In the book I talked about, there’s a guy whose name is Marcus Eliot, and he’s sort of the foremost sports scientist in the world. He does this concept that he calls Misogi, where once a year, they choose one challenging, truly epic task. The only rules are that it has to be really hard, meaning that you have a 50% chance of finishing it, and number two, you can’t die. These are things that are truly out of their comfort zones and so challenging for them. But they learn something about themselves by getting put into position where “Damn, I really want to quit”, and “this is awful”. When he does this with athletes, those athletes can carry that mindset into the games they play.” – Michael Easter
To learn more about Michael Easter and how stepping out of your comfort zone can be legendary, download and listen to this episode.
Michael Easter is a leading voice on how humans can integrate modern science and evolutionary wisdom for improved health, meaning, and performance in life and at work. He travels the globe to embed himself with brilliant but often overlooked scientists, thinkers, and people living at the extremes and shares the best of his findings and experiences in books, articles, and other media.
Michael’s investigations have taken him into ancient monasteries in Bhutan, US Special Forces training grounds, high-tech genetic labs in Iceland, Fortune-500 boardrooms, the world’s most remote wilderness areas, and more.
His work shows science has many answers. But it also shows that many aspects of the human experience and living well cannot be measured. To that end his work often combines the best of the statistical and mystical. It melds topics ranging from medicine and anthropology to theology and philosophy, along with case studies of everyday people doing extraordinary things.
Michael’s work has appeared in over 60 countries and has been endorsed by some of the world’s largest magazines, past directors of the CIA and Navy SEALs, gold medal-winning Olympians, leading physicians, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, Buddhist and environmental leaders, and more.
He is the author of The Comfort Crisis. You can also find his writing in Men’s Health, where he’s a contributing editor, and Outside, Men’s Journal, Cosmopolitan, Vice, Esquire, Scientific American, Women’s Health, and more. He also shares his thoughts on a Medium feed.
When he’s not on the ground reporting, Michael is a professor at UNLV. He co-founded and co-directs of the Public Communications Institute, a think tank at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). It conducts science communications research and helps public and private organizations adapt complex messaging to mass audiences.
He’s spoken to or consulted for various top-tier universities, medical schools, Fortune-500 companies, government agencies, and some of the country’s largest nonprofits.
Connect with Michael!
Are Children in Tune with the Nature Pyramid? by NationalParks.UK
Stress & Mental Health Crisis by The American Psychological Association