Comfort:Happiness

02006-11-17 | Buddhism, Musings | 4 comments

We try to put buffers between us and the world, and as a result we feel less: We want plenty of heat in winter so we don’t feel the cold, but people in Japan, for example, keep their homes quite cold in winter and as a result get sick less. We want air-conditioning in Summer so we don’t feel the heat, but people in Singapore have permanent colds because it is 65 degrees inside and 110 degrees outside…

I could go on, but you get the picture. Living in denial of LIFE. Sickness and death can strike at any moment and it doesn’t matter how comfortable we are. Comfort has no relation to happiness.

In the spring, cherry blossoms.
In the summer the cuckoo.
In autumn the moon.
In winter the snow, clear, cold.
— Dogen Zenji

4 Comments

  1. Adam Solomon

    Interesting…does that apply reciprocally, though? I can understand that comfort doesn’t lead to happiness, but does discomfort have a relation to unhappiness? I would certainly say so (temperature is a good example–do extremes in temperature not interfere with your mindset and your ability to concentrate on enjoying life? I would think it much harder to be happy, say, when you are parched in the middle of the desert), but then, perhaps that stems from a different idea from yours of what “happiness” is…

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  2. Carol

    I was always impressed with a show on the life of Eskimos who depended on catching a seal to live. They were laughing with sheer joy Maybe we laugh because we’re healthy, but maybe also we are healthy because we know how to laugh and feel joy. Just look at the Dalai. His laugh is contagious and everyone feels good around him I’m sure.

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  3. Victor

    Tell me where you set your thermostat and I’ll tell you how in touch you are with your feelings, hmmm? Well, I think it would be an interesting study to see if there is a correlation.

    In any case, I think what you’re saying is that one can be happy (or not) at any level of comfort. Also then, one may feel comfortable (or not) regardless of how happy they are.

    I think that the basic seeking of comfort is probably instinct driven, but to what extent is definitely relative. So in a society where say heat is abundant and has the illusion of being free then it will be consumed without thought. Happiness, on the other hand, is totally defined by the individual (even though culture migh influence us to hang our expectations on certain things or situations).

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  4. Heather

    “Room temperature” is room temperature regardless of the season. Why do people constantly complain that a room set at 72F in the winter is too cold and then crank up (down) the air conditioning in the summer to about 65F? In the winter you should not be walking around inside in a t-shirt when it’s below freezing outside. Lower the temp & wear a sweater: it’s winter! And vice versa your house/office shouldn’t be so cold in the summer that you need to put on a sweater. Besides not being very energy efficient it’s not healthy (as you mentioned).

    If 72F is comfortble for you, it should be comfortable for you year round. As for the summer, a degree differential of about 5-10F between the heat outside is really all you need. As for me….our house is set between 68 & 70F in the winter, and in the summer the air conditioner doesn’t go on until the temperature reaches at least 75F or higher. A breeze flowing through an open window is much nicer than cool air from an a/c.

    As for comfort and happiness, how many times have I heard wealthy people who’ve come from very little say that they were never really unhappy in their poverty years because they didn’t know what they were missing. Or, of course, money doesn’t buy happiness.

    No, definitely comfort and happiness don’t corelate except perhaps that happiness comes from being comfortable in your own skin.

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