My son is 13 years old and has slept with his favorite little blue pillow since he was a very young child. If you ask my wife how much the pillow originally cost I’m sure she would say around $5.00. If you ask me I would say it costs significantly higher and that exact amount would be $262.00. That pillow has traveled and been left in places ranging from Las Vegas, Montreal, Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. One thing my son has not been great at is remembering to pack this very treasured pillow. As fate would have it, each time it’s been left behind at a hotel in one of these cities we’ve been able to obtain it back through lost & found and hotel security hunt towns. Shipping items left behind from hotels are not cheap and total FEDEX fees have made this the most expensive pillow we own!

Now if you ask my son how much his pillow cost he would say priceless.

Having comfort items is not something we lose as adults. Many of us still have our comfort items from childhood at arm’s length or stored in closets and attacks. Perhaps we have obtained new comfort items from adulthood that are significant to our livelihood.

Like a good hot chocolate, my goal for this blog entry is for you to be reminded of your comfort items and gain appreciation for their intrinsic value to you! While it may not be the norm for adults to carry around a Teddy Bear it is scientifically proven that even adults need comfort items.

The branded term for comfort items is known as a “security blanket”. The term security blanket was first popularized in the Peanuts comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz, who gave such a blanket to his character Linus van Pelt. Linus called it his “security and happiness blanket”, in Good Grief, More Peanuts printed in 1956.

Psychologists refer to this is a “security” or “transitional” object. These are objects that people feel a bond with, despite the fact that the relationship is, by definition, one-sided.

The term Essentialism is what the psychology field defines as an object that is more than its physical parts.

Now for many adults their affection for these objects might be more nostalgic than anything else. But there still remains a deep emotional attachment to the object and replacing the original object with a new one does not have the same value.

An example of essentialism for me is my Kindle E-Reader which I use all the time and stores hundreds of books at my fingertips in this small device that I can take anywhere. Yet I still keep hundreds of physical books acquired over my lifetime many the same as in my Kindle. These books have highlights, side-notes, underlined sections, coffee stains and ripped covers. I rarely ever pick them up anymore yet they give me comfort just knowing they are on a shelf. If one was lost and replaced with exactly a new physical book it would not be the same for me. The same could be said about my first baseball glove.  If lost and replaced with a replica of the glove it would not have the same meaning to me because I never held it as a boy.

Other examples of Adult “comfort blankets” are experiments with the use of heavy thick fleece blankets to replace restraints such as straitjackets.

A study in the Journal of Judgment and Decision Making revealed that people who held onto a mug for 30 seconds before bidding for it in an auction offered an average of 83 cents more for it than people who held the mug for 10 seconds.

Adults will take comfort objects away on business trips to remind them of home. According to a 2011 survey by Travelodge, about 35 percent of British adults still sleep with a teddy bear. Now that might not be the most credible survey out there but the point is we have a tendency to love objects beyond the soft and cuddly.

Lately, I’ve been getting into the habit of reading my iPad in bed and falling asleep with it. As an adult I’m thinking using an iPad in this way is not the best comfort item for me! So not all comfort items are in our best interest.

In conclusion, whether it’s the watch handed down from generations, the shirt your father wore or the ceramic mug you made as a child, our relationships to objects can certainly be long-running and deep.

And my guess is when my son does pack away that blue pillow he will know its still there for him whenever he might feel lonely, want to connect to his past or just need a  hug of sorts

What gives you comfort in your life?

Resources:

Comfort-Objects-Photo-Series