Comfort Junkies beware! : The 30 day challengeAnja van Kralingen
According to Rudolf Steiner the greatest obstacle modern man faces is the love of ease, or in modern terms, being a comfort junkie.
Now this really rang true for me because I am the ultimate comfort junkie. Don’t ask me to do anything out of my comfort zone, I will sulk. Of course this is really limiting, because I hardly ever challenge myself to do anything that lies outside my comfort and capability range.
Not to say that I don’t do things, I am quite capable and can do most anything. I have put up cornices, refurbished stairs, drilled, plastered and painted. All minor plumbing and electrical issues get fixed by me. I can knit, crochet, bake, mosaic, you get the picture . Also with the blog, I have taught myself a whole lot off the web about creating and embedding videos and using plug-ins etc. But this is the thing; I am good at this stuff anyway, so it is not really challenging.
It’s the stuff I am not good at that I avoid like the plague! I am sure a lot of people can empathise with me here; exercise; the bottom line is I hate sweating! I could get away with it when I was younger, but now that I have hit 40, it has become quite obvious that certain parts of my anatomy are not resisting gravity as easily as they used to . The other bane in my life is the garden. It needs work and attention, and although I have a gardener who comes twice a week, I cannot motivate myself to teach him to do what I want. But my main issue is that I simply don’t challenge myself.
If I think about the best experiences that I have had, involved being completely outside my comfort zone, like the time Stephen and I went to the Grahamstown festival. We took a bus and stayed in a school boarding house with communal bathrooms and at one restaurant we were served fish and steak that looked and tasted the same because it was covered in Aromat. Hectic! We recently went to Tofu in Mozambique and stayed in a little cottage with one shower and one gas hob and had to take a chappa that raced down the potholed roads like a Ferrari. It was fabulous and I loved it!
I was watching a video by Matt Cutts on TED talks. He was talking about the 30 day commitment to doing something new; or adversely retracting a habit from your life. I think this is a great idea to combat being a comfort junkie. So this started me thinking, what would I do for 30 days to challenge myself, or perhaps do something that I have always wanted to do, but haven’t had the time or drive to commit to it.
What I found particularly poignant, was when he mentioned that his days stopped being a blur and he could remember exactly when and where he was each day. This was, particularly, when he took a photograph a day for 30 days. Well this idea intrigues me, because my days are really a blur. Don’t ask me what I did last Wednesday, I would not know. Each day flows into the next and they are all the same. I would love to have my days be clear and different and distinct from the previous day.
So I started thinking about it and it turned out not to be that easy to think of something! The options that came to me were re-doing the flowerbed and repairing all the broken things in the house. Not really inspiring, just sounds like more of what I am doing anyway. I know I will eventually get to the garden, but would that take away the blur? No.
On Friday night we met Ryan and Cidalia (friends of ours) for supper at Life in Hyde Park, and I mentioned this idea to them and we started chatting about it (and being quite raucous judging by the reaction of the table next to us.) It was fascinating what came up for all of us. Ryan first said that he would like to go to the desert for 30 days and be by himself. Well needless to say, Cidalia glared at him, and, after pointing out to him that the idea was that he should do something that had to fit in with his current lifestyle, he decided to write 1 poem a day for 30 days with the goal of publishing them one day. Nice idea!
Cidalia thought that she would like to offer 1 hour a day to the teacher at school to replace her in class doing something that she could do. She got the idea from OZ, where parents have to contribute time to the school and wash windows and stuff. She also expressed an interest in writing a book about ordinary South Africans, by asking them 3 questions to get them to share their unique, amazing stories. She would then have to interview one person per day for 30 days. What a wonderful book it would make! Also a great idea!
Stephen wanted to challenge himself and do what does not come easily or naturally to him, so he decided to engage one person, a complete stranger, each day in a conversation for at least 10 minutes. He would have to keep trying if he gets rejected until he succeeded on each day. And as Ryan aptly pointed out it couldn’t be someone that is not intimidating at all, like the teller at the bank or the car guard.
Well for me it was really difficult to come up with something challenging. I don’t think doing some more of what I am good at is going to take the blur away. I could not come up with anything and decided to Google it. And I found one thing that I thought would be great, but it would be difficult for me to do, and that was to go to a different place each night for 30 days in a row. Can you imagine where you might end up once you have done the restaurant, movie, show, cabaret, club and art show! But I still have to think about what I am going to do and would love to hear some suggestions if you have any.
We all decided that we will start on the 1st of September and now that it is out there, we all had better stick to it. Expect a blog about it during September.
Why don’t you consider joining us on the 30 day challenge?
And as usual I will leave you with a quote:
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore – Andre Gide