“Disappointment is the gap that exists between expectation and reality,” – John Maxwell.

We all desire comfort and ease. But expecting it, or feeling like we deserve it, is a dangerous mindset conditioned by our culture. Modern culture is perhaps the most comfort-driven in history, embracing ideas that success in life is based on securing a lifestyle free of hardships, free of hard work, and expectations of instant gratification. It’s a lifestyle rooted in laziness and self-indulgence. This lifestyle has created a generation with high levels of toxic stress, anxiety, and mental health issues due to a lack of coping skills and insufficient resiliency skills to handle changes and hardships when they appear in our lives.

In this life you will face troubles. It’s guaranteed. Are you equipped to handle obstacles? Are you equipped to overcome challenges and excel in life after learning from them? What can you do to fight back against comfort culture?

What if you changed your expectations? Our society has embraced a believe they you deserve everything you want without putting in the necessary time, effort, and patience required to achieve the result. The problem is not the desire to want things now, the problem is becoming upset when it doesn’t occur according to your timeline. Embrace patience, put in the hard work, and learn the benefits of playing the long game.

What if you eliminated victim mentality? Today our society walks on eggshells by avoiding tough conversations and taking offense to constructive criticism or differing opinions. People aren’t getting the critical feedback they need to grow and they are easily offended by differing views. Create an inner circle of people that will give you honest feedback. Ask yourself what are the triggers that cause your temper to explode or your feelings to become hurt? Understanding your triggers allows you to prepare to recognize these situations in advance. Is it when you feel disrespected, scared, hurt, or misunderstood?  What are the alternative ways you can respond to these scenarios when your triggers appear?  You can then rehearse alternative responses that are controlled, calm, rational, and confident. Preparation equals separation, and practice makes perfect. You can create a mindset focused on accountability and ownership.

What if you eliminated participation trophies? Prizes that are awarded for everyone who participates conveys an inaccurate and potentially dangerous message. That message is the false assumption that you are a winner all the time. You begin to expect awards and praise for just showing up. Reality will quickly show you not everyone is a winner at everything they do. Showing up to work, working with excellence, completing tasks on time, and exercising patience are not worthy of an award. These traits are basic responsibilities. Participation should be recognized, but prizes should be given for achievement.

What if you stopped living a sedentary lifestyle? The typical American spends 8 hours a day sitting at a desk, then an additional 2 to 3 hours sitting in front of a TV. Instead, get a standing desk, go for walks, exercise, play sports, or just get outside and move your body each day.

What if you limited excessive television? You could be living your dreams, but instead, you decide to live someone else’s by watching hours of shows on Netflix or other streaming services. As an example, TV is passive; reading is active. TV shuts off your brain; reading turns on your imagination. Your mind deserves better than Hollywood. Imagine the goals you could accomplish if you took back the 14 or more hours of television you watch each week.

What if you reduced social media and internet usage? Instant gratification is a dangerous drug. Social media will consistently provide little spikes of dopamine to keep you addicted. Hours of scrolling the internet, consuming unfounded opinions on social media, and arguing online is a complete waste of productivity. You lose time, energy, and your edge.

What if you started treating root Issues instead of symptoms?  Our society is experiencing an epidemic of abusing pills, dangerous forms of self-medication, and seeking shortcuts to treat mental and physical ailments. Instead, you should get addicted to prayer, physical fitness, mental fitness, gratitude, goal setting, quality relationships, eating clean, and quality sleep.

What if you took ownership of your health? More people die in the U.S. from overfeeding than underfeeding. Food companies optimize for “Bliss-Point.” They engineer the exact combination of salt, sugar, and fat for tastiness. Soda, chips, candy bars, and other processed foods are all “bliss-point” optimized. It’s a trap that’s killing millions. You need to consume unprocessed, whole foods.

What if you eliminated your phone addiction: Many people are unhappy because their dopamine receptors in their brains are fried! Checking a phone 100+ times per day is destroying joyfulness and the ability to accomplish goals and meaningful tasks.  Place your phone in a separate room and only check it at specific times during the day.

What if you focused on building trust in God: Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” Ephesians 6:10-20 describes the need for people to arm themselves with God’s spiritual resources in order to stand against evil in the world. Instruction to endure hardship and rejoice in suffering is scattered throughout the New Testament. In Matthew 16:24 Jesus told his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” We are not called to live a comfortable life. We are called to live a purposeful life and enjoy comforts that appear along the way. We can absolutely live with joy that isn’t attached to circumstances, but instead focus on the fact that we are loved and strengthened by God to live his mission for our lives, regardless of circumstances. As a reward, he is preparing a heavenly home in paradise for us that far outweighs any strife and troubles we experience on this earth.

What if you lived the Pursuit of Growth? Imagine a person who is inspiring in their character, positive in their attitude, powerful in their confidence, united in their relationships, dedicated to their health, active in their love and service, skilled in their lifelong learning, enthusiastic about their professional work, wise in their financial literacy, passionate in their hobbies and experiences, and committed to their faith in God. This is a person who is able to live their life to its fullest potential. This is a person who is capable of annihilating fear, stress, anxiety, worry, and despair. This is a person whose mental and physical health can become their weapon for attacking the trials, challenges, obstacles, and tragedies in life. This is a person whose mental and physical health can create opportunities, excellence, purpose, and growth. This is a person who is able to regroup and grow despite setbacks and failures. This is a person capable of joy, accomplishment, and peace of mind. This person avoids the pitfalls of comfort culture and replaces it with a lifestyle focused on a mission driven purpose. This person can be you.

Live The Pursuit of Growth