Have we made our lives too comfortable? Can we imagine living without the many services we pay for, the apps that assist us, or the algorithms that reduce our physical efforts while saving us precious time? Journalist Michael Easter argues in his book, The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self, that moving out of our physical and mental comfort zones is not only good for us but might improve our health and mental well-being.
In this episode, he and EconTalk host Russ Roberts discuss the merits of boredom, listening to our surroundings, death, and “this thing called misogi”. Dive in, and tell us about your past and anticipated novel experiences; we’d love to hear from you.
1- The theme of rites of passage is rich in ancient and modern literature and film. What do you think of the practicality of choosing a physically challenging, psychologically tough misogi (禊) experience that has only 50% odds for success?
2- If too little or too much mental and physical stimulation can have lasting negative effects, how much risk should we choose to take? What stimulating event or activity would cross you to the other side of the U-shaped curve Easter describes and that Roberts believes he is now scaling?
3- To what extent does Easter sufficiently explain why he contends that monumental intellectual accomplishments don’t achieve the same or similar life-changing outcomes as tremendous physical wins?
4- Door Dash, Amazon Next-Day Delivery, Venmo, Lyft, Google Maps, (name your favorites). How do these innovations assist our propensity toward routine and lack of focus on the present? What does your cost/benefit analysis reveal about your value for increasing daily conveniences?
5- Humans used to run down prey in the heat for miles, and then carry heavy weight over long distances. Is it a good or a bad thing that the majority of us have let these skills stultify? Do you agree or disagree with Easter that we should also seek to learn where else we might be “falling short” in our lives? Explain.