The other night I was sleeping in a room that was too warm. I could hear the wind in the trees and knew it was cool outside so I opened up the windows.
The room began to cool, the breeze of the trees started to rock me to sleep. I felt more relaxed. I could even smell that delicious aftertaste from rain.
And then I noticed a mosquito hovering above me.
Frustrated, I got up, shut the windows, cursed the insect under my breath and spent the next 5 minutes tracking him down to take him out. Otherwise, I knew I wouldn’t sleep.
Of course, it became warm again, and as I tossed and turned not being able to sleep, it got me thinking...
We came from nature
As much as we tend to believe we’re separate from nature or have dominion over it, we need to remember we are it.
We've also been living in nature amongst the trees, the wind, and the mosquitos, for 99% of our history as a species.
But these days we box ourselves up in brick & concrete prisons effectlively shutting out the world that birthed us.
We crave to sleep under the stars listening to the sound of nature in the background.
Instead, we paste glow-in-the-dark stickers to ceilings and play sounds of nature from cell phones – all in a desperate attempt to recreate what is natural, just so we can sleep normally.
We buy plants (think of it), hang photos of the ocean, plug in scents of pine, and turn on the television to watch shows about nature.
We cut down thousands of trees, replace them with buildings, and then plant shrubs & bushes around the concrete to make us like we're still in nature.
We have plastic plants, plastic Christmas trees, plastic fruits.
There are even portable patches of grass you can buy to put bare feet on because most of us aren't outside enough.
What has happened?
It makes sense why we do these things.
The world – and nature – can be a dangerous place. Our homes keep us safer from it.
These walls also offer convenience. Our brains prefer the 'path of least resistance' to conserve energy.
By artificially controlling our environment, we expend less energy better safeguard ourselves. This is extremely convenient from an evolutionary standpoint.
Survival is our number one priority as a living organism. The fact we can increase our likelihood of survival while using less energy is something we've never had access to in all of history like we do today.
You can imagine, then, how appealing this must be to our biological systems that evolved for a very different type of environment – one that was much more dangerous and required massive amounts of energy just to survive.
That's why at face value, our modern lives are labeled as more progressive than those who lived before us.
But this thinking neglects all that we lose...
What have we sacrificed?
We need to contemplate how our sudden change of behavior is affecting us on psychological, physiological, and sociological levels.
Further, we need to understand how powerful this convenience is so it doesn't rule aspects of our lives we don't realize. It's vital we understand this if we want to live conscious lives we're in control of.
What have we lost by shutting out nature and locking ourselves indoors?
How are we limiting ourselves from our potential because we’ve muted what makes us human?
How has the lure of convenience affected other facets of our lives?
Are we staying locked in our 'safe' romantic relationship because we fear the wild nature of the unknown outside of it and what may bite us?
Do we keep showing up to work every day unfulfilled simply because it conveniently pays the bills?
Of course, it's not only our jobs or relationship but every micro-decision we make.
We’re conditioned to choose convenience over optimal because it conserves energy.
On top of that, society sells us convenience in nearly every waking moment convincing us their product will make our lives easier.
Then, we're subconsciously encouraged to keep making convenient choices because it's familiar to our brains and feels less dangerous.
It doesn't have to be this way
We're programmed to seek safety and conserve energy. We know this.
We're also living in the safest, and most convenient time in history.
Therefore, we must be vigilant about not blindly falling into the trap of convenience while sacrificing what is optimal. Or sacrificing what makes you human.
You can do this by starting to ask yourself: Am I choosing this because it's what I authentically want, or because it's convenient?
One of my favorite exercises is the, 'best case / worst case scenario' I got from Tim Ferriss.
Let's say you really want to do something but you're afraid. That's okay, fear is normal. Now let's break it down.
If you were to follow what you really wanted to do, what's the worse case scenario?
For example, I used to be a private investigator living steps from the beach. Every morning, I'd wake up, walk to the ocean barefoot, and bodysurf. Then I'd spy on people like it was a movie. It was fun – but it wasn't my passion.
I did this exercise and got really honest. The worst case scenario? I could find a different PI job and return doing exactly what I was doing.
The best case scenario? I could live anywhere I want doing what I love.
So I quit and moved to Costa Rica with no plan hoping I would figure it out.
It wasn't convenient. I went from making $6k per month to $500 per month.
And it was easy living in another country where I didn't speak the language.
But it was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I ever made for myself.