The Comfort Conundrum

Stack of fluffy lime green bath towels sitting on a wooden stool in a shower with brown wood like rectangular tiles.
Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

The bath towels at my parents’ house were plentiful but thin, small and scratchy. Not one to expect those two depression babies to acquiesce to my bougie needs, I bought them a couple of big fluffy bath sheets. Inexplicably, they refused to use them. They lived in the back of the linen closet and came out only if my sister or I visited.

Compared to my parents’ modest 3 BR home, ours is a palace. It’s a big 4 BR colonial on the Far North side of Columbus, Ohio with a fenced yard that backs up to an easement and beyond that a copse of woods that can never be developed. The kitchen cabinets are new and there are granite countertops. And there’s a linen closet that contains among other things, a dozen big fluffy bath sheets.

What got me thinking about this was a random Facebook reel with a guy who referred to “comfort addiction.” I poked around the Oracle (aka Google) and my take away is it’s not that we are addicted to comfort as much as we’ve experienced comfort “inflation.”

Could I live without fluffy bath sheets? Yes, of course. Without the latest iPhone? Again, yes. Without an iPhone, i.e. a cheap Android phone? Yes. Without a cell phone? No. (And I think about how crazy that is, often.)

Yet, I would also love an Apple watch. Even though I rarely wear the Fitbit I already have. Nor the dozen or other analog time pieces I’ve owned over the years (they stop). I deserve an Apple watch but I refuse to buy one. My version of scratchy towels, I guess. Though if someone bought one for me I’d use it. I think. But I digress.

Wanting to be comfortable is not the problem, there is nothing wrong with that. That’s human nature. The problem is that the cost of maintaining the level of comfort we’ve become accustomed to (or aspire to) is steadily increasing. I’m already making adjustments. (Did you know often Aldi has goat cheese for $1.99 a log? You’re welcome.)

Air travel on the other hand, has undergone radical comfort contraction. Ten years ago, a standard seat was a perfectly acceptable experience, even for a long trip. Now that same ticket sends you to the back of the plane where your knees hit the back of the seat in front of you and God forbid the person in front of you decides to recline. So that’s a situation in which something that used to be adequately comfortable has been made wholly uncomfortable and we now have to pay to get back to what used to be par.

Do we deserve to be maximally comfortable? Of course. For example, I’ve got a whole list of things I want to do with this house, not the least of which is to replace our useless microwave/fan over the stove for a real range hood so we don’t set off the smoke detectors every time we pan fry a steak. The problem is I’ll need about $2,000 more to install it and fix the tile. Sigh. Juice meet Squeeze.

My parents would have lived with the microwave. Just sayin’.

The other thing driving this rumination is that the last week of every year I look at spending and develop budgets and the net net is unless our resources go up, our comfort level is gonna have to go down. Maybe not a lot and maybe some of it can be achieved by eliminating things that don’t deliver on their comfort-y promises. (I’m looking at you, subscriptions to various and sundry and $5 bricks of butter.)

We could maintain, but it would be at the expense of investing in our future so we can afford to replace those worn out bath sheets with new fluffy towels when the time comes.

If there is a prescriptive, it is this.

  • It’s OK to raise your prices and only work for those clients who see your value and have the means to compensate you appropriately for it.
  • It’s OK to live with the scratchy towels (or whatever your equivalent is) if it is allowing you to meet your financial goals.
  • It’s OK to change your mind, i.e., live with the microwave. Your future self will thank you.

Anyone need a 36″ Hauslane range hood?

Happy New Year, ya’ll. Love and fluffy towels. xo hb


  1. Helena,
    AMEN, is all I have to say. I am so glad to read your writing again. The thoughts ring so true, but it’s your way into the topic and your way with words that always delight me–Juice meet Squeeze.

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