Woman looking out at view in nature

Someone smart once said: Comfort is the enemy of achievement. While this may hold true, I believe that comfort is also the enemy of compassion.

As privileged millennials, we take so many things for granted. Recently, I’ve come to learn that rejecting routines and forcing myself to be uncomfortable is an excellent way to mentally reboot.

It had been four months since my last pedicure when my mother practically dragged me to the upscale salon in her neighborhood.

“You look like you’ve got actual claws,” she told me, not unkindly. “It’s time to take care of those feet of yours.” So, we did.

It’s funny — what used to be a fairly regular beauty ritual has, in the last few months, become the pinnacle of luxury for me.

These days, I a) don’t have a paycheck and b) spend hours with my feet crammed into heavy duty hiking boots, so shelling out fifty bucks for someone to put pink polish on my toes feels like an undeserved extravagance.

This is just one example of how the little things have shifted…

Living on the road has changed my perspective towards plenty of formerly unremarkable activities.

For instance, sleeping in a bed has come to feel like a seriously fancy endeavor.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent so many nights on the ground, in the cramped backseat of my car, or on friends’ couches, that when I finally have the opportunity to sleep in a real bed, I savor every millisecond on the mattress.

And then, of course, there’s the newfound joy of showers.

I used to be a twice-a-day showerer. I’d wake up, exercise first thing in the morning, and then immediately hop under the spray to get the salty sweat off my skin. After a full day of work, I’d usually feel the need for another quick rinse because I never wanted to slip between the sheets coated in city grime. There was zero appreciation for this routine.

I’d just go through the motions.

Lately, I’ve been substituting actual showers with a dunk in a lake or the ol’ wipe down with whatever scented body wipes Target has on sale that week. It’s not the most hygienic practice to be sure, but so far I haven’t developed any weird skin diseases… so, that’s a win!

I’m realizing that gratitude is all about perspective.

After a week of sleeping on the ground, you’ll appreciate your bed in a way you never imagined.

Bathing in 40-degree alpine lakes will make you savor the simplicity of a steamy shower at home.

Eschewing luxuries like manicures and Michelin-star meals means you experience something near nirvana when you return to civilization.

I recognize that choosing to live uncomfortably is flat out a luxury within itself — I know there are people who sleep on the ground every day, not because they decide to, but because they have no other option — but I still think that it’s important for those of us who do “have it all” to experience these discomforts.

If nothing else, it serves as a reminder of how good we really have it, and hopefully helps us become better, more compassionate humans as a result. Okay, done preaching now. Back to the woods I go!

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