One Degree at a Time

Mark Twain once said everybody always complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. I guess it’s good that we can’t actually do anything about it, because that would just give us all one more thing to fight over. And I’m pretty sure I’d never live long enough to get my turn at the thermostat. If I did, I’d set it to 80 and break it.

My wife and I have a running feud over the inside temperature of our house. Well, it’s more like a disagreement. Okay, it’s a game of cat & mouse. She keeps turning it down, then I sneak down the hallway to turn it back up. We’ve done this several times a day for the past five years. We both think the other won’t notice, or maybe we just hope we’ll get at least an hour or two of relative comfort.

And, are you ready for this? Our difference in the definition of “acceptable” is one degree. One. Singular. You can’t even measure it in degrees, because there’s only one of them. Seriously? In fairness, that’s just the temperature where we’ve agreed not to compromise. She would be happy with five degrees colder, and I’d be happy on a tropical beach.

Now, there’s no way our bodies can tell the difference between 68 and 69 degrees. But that’s where we’ve drawn the line. At this point, it’s more of a moral victory than anything really meaningful. Yet, we play the game. Day after day, year after year. I can’t wait to see what we’ll be like in our eighties.

I guess this is a (somewhat) amusing way of illustrating a more important point. It’s natural to want to live in our comfort zone and, for most of us, stepping outside that comfort zone is a big deal. Even if it’s only by one degree. We know where life feels good, and that’s where we want to stay.

But all too often, what we perceive as our comfort zone really isn’t that comfortable at all. We just live our lives in a state of compromise and acceptance, never really trying to make it any better. Because, in the very act of making it better, we have to abandon what we’ve come to know and take a chance on breaking the thermostat completely.

And, it’s that risk that keeps most of us right where we are. That, and a feeling of relative comfort. Sure, you’d like to make more money, or live in a bigger house, or get a better job, or break away from a toxic relationship. But that means stepping away from what you’ve come to know and into the unknown. It means change, and change isn’t something we always handle very well.

So, we sit right where we are, in a state of relative discomfort, simply because it’s easier than making the changes that would increase our level of comfort. After a while, we even embrace that level of discomfort, because it’s what we know. This is the very reason the vast majority of lottery winners are bankrupt within a few years. The change is just too sudden.

But, here’s the thing. The temperature in our house didn’t suddenly change one day from 75 degrees to 68. It was a slow progression – a trick wives learn in bridal school where they teach them to conquer the household one degree at a time. And husbands, gullible as we are, don’t even notice it until there are icicles on the bathroom mirror. By then, we’ve been had.

The same is true of changes in your life. The big bang approach usually doesn’t work, because it’s too much change too fast. Why do you think all those New Year’s resolutions fail? But if we approach change a little at a time and give ourselves a little time to get used to the change, it adjusts our comfort zone and becomes another normal part of our day.

Your comfort zone is like a rubber band. It can sit there for years, never doing anything besides just existing and getting moved from one place to another. But in order to be of any value at all, it has to be stretched. And, the reality is, someday you’ll stretch it too far and it’ll break. So, you reach into the drawer and get a new one that you can stretch even further.

One degree at a time. It may not fix the ongoing battle over the temperature in our home, but it can make a huge difference in your quality of life if you’ll just let go of that one degree that’s holding you back. You can’t find a new comfort zone by resting comfortably in the one you’ve got. Step outside and explore. You never know what you may find.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

3 thoughts on “One Degree at a Time

  1. Dave, Ithink we all can relate to your thermostat story. We do the same thing at our house. I am the warm one and Joe is usually covered with his favorite Harley blanket. Probably because I am most always cleaning or cooking which requires moving and he is retired. Lol. Everything we do is a habit…..some good, some not so good. I have plenty of the latter but am working on changing them! Good one, as usual.

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