It is a whole heck of a lot easier to change your life, either big or small changes if you learn to master one skill.
And that is being learning to be comfortable with discomfort.
If you learn this skill, you can master pretty much anything. You can beat procrastination, start exercising, make your diet healthier, learn a new language, make it through challenges and physically grueling events, explore new things, speak on a stage, you name it. And that’s just the start.
Unfortunately, most people avoid discomfort. I mean, really avoid it — at the first sign of discomfort, they’ll run as fast as possible in the other direction. This is perhaps the biggest limiting factor for most people, and it’s why you can’t change your habits.
A little discomfort isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be something you enjoy, with a little training. Master your fear of discomfort, and you can master the universe.
Avoidance of Discomfort
When people are stressed, they often turn to cigarettes, food, shopping, alcohol, drugs, anything to get rid of the discomfort of the thing that’s stressing them out. And yet, if you take a deeper look at the stress, it’s really an unfounded fear that’s causing it (usually the fear that you are not good enough), and if you examined it and gave it some light of day, it would start to go away.
If you start to exercise after being sedentary, it can make you feel uncomfortable. Exercising is hard. It can make you sore. It’s not as easy as not exercising. It’s not something you’re used to doing, and you fear doing it wrong or looking stupid.
And so you stop after a while because it’s uncomfortable. Although it is not horrible to be uncomfortable for a little while. Let’s get one thing clear, I’m not talking about incredible pain, but just discomfort.
If you try a healthier diet or even a vegan diet, you might not like it — eating veggies and raw nuts and flaxseeds and fruits and tofu or tempeh or black beans aren’t as thrilling as eating fried, fatty, salty or sweet foods. Really it is not at first. (And for you it might never be.) It’s a form of discomfort to change your taste buds, but the truth is, it can easily happen if you just get through a little discomfort.
Discomfort isn’t bad. It’s just not what we’re used to. And so we avoid it, but at the cost of not being able to change things, not being healthy, or not being open to adventure.
How to Be Comfortable with Discomfort
The way to master discomfort is to do it comfortably. That probably sounds contradictory, but trust me, it’s not. If you are afraid of discomfort, and you try to beat discomfort with a really grueling activity, you will probably give up and fail, and go back to comfort.
So do it in small doses.
1. Pick Something That is Not Hard
Such as trying new healthy food, like kale, raw almonds, or quinoa. Or a fairly easy exercise like walking or jogging.
2. Just Do a Little
You don’t have to start by doing 30 minutes of something you’re not used to doing. Just do a few minutes. Just start.
3. Push Out of Your Comfort Zone Just a Little
When you are doing any activity that is uncomfortable to you and you get the urge to stop, don’t. When that urge comes a second time, don’t. On the third time when that urge comes, then stop.
This way you have to stay with the activity and the discomfort twice before finally giving in the third time. This way you are pushing outside of your comfort zone a little by being in discomfort. And eventually, when you keeping pushing outside of your comfort zone, you will eventually feel comfortable with whatever was not comfortable originally.
4. Monitor Your Discomfort
When you are starting to get a bit uncomfortable watch what you do. Are you starting to complain internally and possibly even externally? Are you trying to find ways to avoid it and is there something you turn to instead? What happens if you stay with it and don’t do anything?
This might sound like weird advice. If you can smile while being uncomfortable, then with practice you can learn to be happy with discomfort.
Discomfort can be the joyful key that opens up everything for you.
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