Fulfillment vs. Comfort, Death, and Kurt Vonnegut

It’s 5:05 am and I’m sitting at my desk writing this and here’s why I’m sharing that: a) I’ve always wanted to be an early bird writer but could never make it happen—the fact that it happened today is proof of miracles, and b) I’m terrible with deadlines and I meant to get this informational nugget of wisdom out to you yesterday. 

My impressive inability to follow through on things is becoming clear as I consistently think of all the cool things I’d like to accomplish, and then I go get a snack. (I snack a lot.)

This inability brings me to my point… um, ur question actually.

How do we slowly change what’s not working for what could potentially work? (Because you suffer from the same ailments I’m assuming my fellow flawed human!) 

We blindly do the same things day in, day out and much of it is an exact replica from yesterday. Exact. Same motions, same thoughts, same attitude. Same bag of Halloween candy. 

Many find peace and safety in the same old routine, even if it’s unfulfilling, and for many of us, it’s incredibly unfulfilling… so wtf? Seriously… what in the actual f*ck is wrong with us? 

I’ll tell you, (since I’m feeling really good about my newly minted win as an early riser who writes!) our issue is we’re creatures of habit. Habit wins every. time. Good, bad, indifferent, doesn’t matter it’s going to win. 

Another messed up thing is when we do step into something new that’s good for us and we enjoy—like getting up early to write (yes, I oddly enjoy this), or reading a book for fun, or getting into a great workout groove—inevitably the almighty sabotage swoops in and we fall back into old patterns. Infuriating AF. 

Case in point, I’ve quit coffee so many times and felt smugly superior to it only to come crawling back, cup in hand, a devotee for life!

Habits are old pals, they’re familiar and worn out in just the right spots. They’re comfortable and too many times we choose comfort over fulfillment. (Note: Comfort is not a synonym for fulfillment. Comfort is welcoming, homey, in velvet – that’s an actual synonym for comfort! I find words so interesting. Feeling fulfilled is where we want to live because it feels better, it feels rewarding. It feels scary too sometimes and that’s how you know it’s going to be worth it!)

To attempt to get one over on ye old habits, a question we can begin with is this: What is literally the hardest part about what I want to change? and break the answer down using the simplest of words.

When I began getting up at 5 to write, I realized the hardest part of the whole process was stepping out of bed. I’ve created my bed to replicate white puffy, heavenly clouds and no I’ll never be able to sleep anywhere else in life and this is why leaving this magical envelope is literally the worst part of my day. But… I’ve come to realize that if I can shorten the amount of time—we’re talking nanoseconds here—that it takes to go from bed to slippers and bathrobe, then it gets easier. A lot easier. So, to not mince words, that’s what’s been holding me back… warm covers. 

What stupid little thing is keeping you from trying something new?

This isn’t a dress rehearsal, and not to sound overly morbid, here’s an embarrassing fact—every day I get daily reminders, five to be exact, that we’re going to die. I know, it’s bizarre but it’s curiously motivating—reminding yourself that each day, you’re one day closer to the final act is the thing that rips the band-aid off.

Think about what your actions, your thoughts, and your general approach to life create in your world, and then ask yourself, do I want more? If so, get it! Go get it because you can! It’s going to be uncomfortable AF at first, but then it slowly morphs into this thing you’re doing and you do it because you get used to doing it and it would be weird to stop. Let it become the thing you just do. 

I’m going to leave you with something that spoke to me. I get these emails from Letters of Note—I highly recommend signing up for them, they’re almost as amazing as this newsletter—and this one highlights Kurt Vonnegut writing a letter to a high school class on how to make your soul grow (yea, we going deep today!):

“What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or how badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow. 

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture… dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend your Count Dracula. 

Write a six-line poem, about anything, but rhymed. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, OK? 

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.” 

I mean, can we just do that!


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