I am comfortable in the uncomfortable.
— Conor McGregor, Current UFC Featherweight Title Holder
Many of the most rewarding moments in life are when we are either:
A. Extremely comfortable
B. Extremely uncomfortable
Here are some examples of being “extremely comfortable:”
- Sitting around a campfire
- Lying in bed
- Sitting on a beach with the sun on your face
- Eating delicious meals
- Relaxing at home on the couch with family
These are, unarguably, some of the best moments in life.
Now, here are some examples of being “extremely uncomfortable:”
- Finishing a thesis, scoring high on a test, or graduating with a degree
- Pushing yourself to the limit during a run, a lift, or another exercise
- Learning a new skill, a language, or art
- Pushing hard, working late, and advancing for promotion or pay raise
- Asking your wife to marry you (yes, this is so nerve-wracking that it is uncomfortable)
In each of these examples, we experience discomfort, whether it be through hard work, from doing something different, or by simply being “put outside our comfort zone.”
The point is that we are all good at being comfortable. That much is easy. But the rewarding life experiences that come from being uncomfortable are harder to obtain because of our human desires to avoid discomfort. We are much better at doing the things that make us comfortable than we are at doing the things that make us uncomfortable.
For example, many of us are uncomfortable:
- Being alone in silence with no radio or TV
- Sitting up tall with good posture
- Making solid eye contact to a stranger
- Truly listening instead of talking
What are the things that make you uncomfortable?
For instance, a man might be uncomfortable getting a pedicure or admitting he is broke or in debt. While a woman might be uncomfortable being in public without shaving her legs or telling her friends to stop gossiping.
The challenge is to start identifying what makes you uncomfortable. Then, conquer the discomfort. Realize that these are the moments that could bring great reward to your life.
For me, I have implemented a few tricks to start conquering my desire to always be comfortable:
- Taking only cold showers (See my post A Case for Cold Showers). I have been taking cold showers for 90 days.
- Going on “media fasts” for days or weeks at a time. This means no radio, no TV, no news, etc. This is hard for me because I like noise. Being in the quiet alone with my thoughts is uncomfortable for me.
- Leaving my phone at home when I go somewhere.
- Learning a new skill or trade. I recently took up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, because I know nothing about it and feel like a child when I am being choked out by a guy half my size. Super uncomfortable.
- Having hard conversations. Sucking it up and picking up the phone or walking into the office of my coworker, customer, friend, spouse, or family member.
- Forcing solid eye contact with complete strangers and with the people closest to me.
There are more tricks, tips, and habits you can implement in your own life. These are just the ones that I have tried.
Once you get over the severe dismay for discomfort, you are on your way to experiencing some of the most highly rewarding facets of life.