Why Happiness + Comfort Cannot Coexist

If there’s one lesson that’s changed my life it’s this one. This one poured out of me so fast because I’m living this lesson right now as I leave my metaphorical comfort zone and to pursue a dream that I have simultaneously yearned for…but also scares the crap out of me. 


Why is it that the things we most desire come with the most fear? 


How do we dance with our fear of failure and our desire to grow and pursue dreams? 


Last week, my husband James sent me one of the most insightful videos on this topic from Graham Weaver in a lecture at Stanford business school:


He says, “We have this thought that life is supposed to be easy and that comfort is what’s going to give us happiness. But make no mistake that is not the path. It is exactly the opposite.”  


Comfort kills our happiness. Discomfort fuels it. 


Yes, yes, yes. 


So many of my clients are unfulfilled because of their desire for comfort, control, and consistency. 


In fact, this hiding behavior is so common it is one of the five Unfulfilled Achiever Archetypes and manifestations of the success wound: The Hider Archetype. 


If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know that my work and research has found that at the root of every unfulfilled achiever is the success wound. The success wound is the false belief that your worthiness of love and belonging is contingent upon what you produce, achieve, and do, rather than who you are, and is the core belief system of all unfulfilled achievers. 


The Hider is the person who internalizes this success wound and decides they would rather stay safe and comfortable rather than risk failure and therefore risk their achiever identity and belonging. Hiders fear failure, uncertainty, and making the wrong decision. 


We all have a Hider within us, a part of us that would rather stay right here thank you very much  than pursue a longing or a dream or a risky “But what if?”. 


We are constantly in a tension between our brains that want safety and our souls that want expansion. 


Our brains seek the certainty and predictability of our comfort zone– the same role, the same company, the same relationship– even if that comfort zone is anything but comfortable, it can convince us that we are safer in the suffering than facing an uncertain future. 


But our souls, our souls yearn for expansion. Our souls whisper “You’re made for more” “There’s something else out there for me” “I’m not living up to my potential” “I have this dream…”


Most people spend their whole lives grappling with this tension and letting the Hider’s fear call the shots. 


In her book The Five Regrets of the DyingBronnie Ware shares the most common regrets of people in palliative care as a warning for us who are still living:


1) “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” 

2) “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.” 

3) “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.” 

4) “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” 

5) “I wish I had let myself be happier”


Can you see the common thread? 


They wish they had chosen courage over comfort. 


They wish they had listened to their Soul’s desire rather than their Hider’s fear. 


What’s haunting is that these are the same concerns I hear from my clients and women around the world, which means most of us won’t ever confront our success wounds and work past these hiding tendencies.


Everything you want is on the other side of discomfort and pain.