There’s a great quote in Elizabeth Berg’s novel The Year of Pleasures,*: “The things that brought me the most comfort now were too small to list. Raspberries in cream. Sparrows with cocked heads. Shadows of bare limbs making for sidewalk filigrees. Roses past their prime with their petals loose about them. The shouts of children at play in the neighborhood, Ginger Rogers on the black-and-white screen.”
These comforting things are not too small to list; don’t you think? Sure, they’re not extraordinary, spectacular things. And yet they are.
I love this quote. I love the idea of identifying the things that comfort us most. Because seeking comfort is a compassionate way to care for ourselves. There are tons of tips and quotes about getting out of our comfort zone. Which are certainly helpful. It’s good advice to leave our comfort zones, to dare, to do.
But letting ourselves be comfortable, letting ourselves feel safe, snug and tended to is important, too. It’s important that we find ways to soothe ourselves, to sink into cozy spaces, to give our hearts a hug. Regularly.
In fact, I believe it’s essential. After all, our most basic needs include safety—like emotional safety—and self-kindness.
Do you know what brings you the most comfort? What helps you feel better? What helps you feel safe? What eases your weariness? What alleviates your pain?
Maybe it’s soft sheets, warm blankets and sweats. Maybe it’s painting or playing the guitar. Maybe it’s an hour of listening to someone play the violin. Maybe it’s writing poetry. Maybe it’s lavender and lemon essential oils. Maybe it’s going to bed two hours early to open a new book and visit a new world.
Maybe it’s munching on an apple or two while watching reruns of your favorite 50s sitcom. Maybe it’s tending to a garden (and thereby tending to yourself). Maybe it’s staring at the sky every night. Maybe it’s sitting by the water. Maybe it’s doodling nonsense. Maybe it’s massaging your neck.
As you’re identifying the things that bring you the most comfort, consider defining what “comfort” actually means to you. Or look at your list, and see if you find a specific theme or patterns. Delve into why certain things soothe and comfort you. This is a great way to get to know yourself better. Or spend the month experimenting with different activities.
Comfort is not a dirty word. It’s not a copout. (The same goes for pleasure.) It’s quite the opposite actually: Comfort is vital for our well-being.
What will you put on your comfort list?
* I initially ran across the quote in the book “Nothing is Worth More Than This Day”: Finding Joy in Every Moment. Check out more wonderful quotes here.