I recently published my story of how Joy follows me, so in the season of Comfort and Joy, I feel it only fair to give Comfort it’s due. I, myself, am a huge fan of comfort. I’m all the way into warm sweaters, soft blankets, cozy sock, hot drinks, and comforting food. But when I stop to think about that, I’m not sure there are many on this planet who are not fans of comfort.
Comfort can come in many forms: physical comfort, mental comfort and spiritual comfort. The easiest of these to recognize and often to fill are physical comforts. In many parts of the world at this time of year, physical comfort can be challenged just by the weather. It’s time to bundle up and stuff our layered selves into coats and boots and hats and gloves, all in the attempt to stay comfortable. For me, this is a serious challenge. For one thing, I’m not comfortable stuffed like a sausage into a million layers. And another, I’m convinced that my inner core is primarily lava or fire that needs to be stoked often, especially once the outside temperatures begin to plummet. If I don’t keep my internal temp fueled, it becomes extremely difficult for me to get and stay warm and therefore, I become UNcomfortable. (No kidding. I sometimes have to sleep in a hoodie. I’m talking with hood on!)
Physical comforts can come from squishy socks, soft flannel jammies, and cuddly blankets. A nice atmospheric fire can contribute to your comfort level as can a bowl of mac and cheese! (Or coffee or hot chocolate in my case). There are books written about comfort foods that give us temporary comfort from a bad day, or bring memories flooding back of more comfortable times around your Mother’s kitchen table. In any case, thousands of industries thrive on our desire to find physical comfort. And I’m 100% in favor of all forms of cozy/physical comfort.
But comfort can be a mental game as well. Have you ever had the thought, “I won’t be comfortable until I know….x,y,z”? We seek mental comfort from reassurance and information. The right information can set your mind at such ease, that you no longer even care about your physical comfort. I can tell you that I would not care one bit if I was freezing to death, if my mind was worried or occupied by something stronger like the welfare of a loved one. It simply wouldn’t matter. So in this instance we can see that physical comfort is not the be all, end all. Is it then mental comfort? I don’t think so.
There is something that I’ve come to possess in just the last few years for myself, and that is spiritual comfort. Now this is still very much a work in progress for me, but even the slightest effort in seeking that type of comfort in my life has changed me forever. I actively seek out this type of comfort and some days the search is harder than others. There is nothing that I want more for myself than to be spiritually comfortable because beyond that, the rest in the hierarchy is so small. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs chart has been telling us this since he published his paper, “The Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943. Spiritual health, or comfort (for the purposes of this article), is the most important focus that we can attend to for ourselves and, stay with me now, for each other. Boiled down, if your head and your heart are not right for you, your head and heart cannot be right for anyone else.
I’ve been trying to reverse engineer all of the recent cultural unrest in our country and what it boils down to is self respect. If we do not have self respect, if we do not have our head and heart focused on what is down right good for our souls, we cannot provide the respect that the person sitting next to us deserves. Everybody knows that you can have all of the physical comforts known to man, but true comfort, true peace comes from deeper than any 6 bedroom house, or cozy sweater, or cup of hot coffee (although cashmere socks are close. Just sayin’.)
So in this season of Comfort and Joy, do yourself a favor (and the rest of humanity) and find ways to improve your spiritual comfort level. Don’t let outside nay sayers have any impact. Stay firm on your path to calm the internal storms that churn up your life. If you feel yourself drifting, do what you have to do to regain your direction. Turn off the holiday music if you have to. Read something uplifting. Or just sit quietly and let yourself start understanding how to untie the knots of your life that keep you uncomfortable. There’s safety in numbers, so stay close to those in your life who make you feel better about yourself and happier about your situation and give you the encouragement (or the shovel) to dig a little deeper into your spiritual comfort.
I hope this holiday season that you find all of the beautiful physical comforts that bring you even a smidge of joy. I hope that you have a peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday you may celebrate. I hope that over the holidays, you truly get to enjoy a mental break and get to take a breath. And I pray that you find all of the Comfort and Joy, in all aspects of your life, during this season and beyond.