We, in the western world, lead comfortable lives. Perhaps mostly “lives of quiet desperation,” as Thoreau pointed out. Comfort does not change the desperation factor; in many cases, it supports it. Yet, we think our improved modern life is good for us. But that’s not always necessarily so. Like Michael Easter, I’d like to suggest that changing your life for the better means sometimes embracing discomfort.
I know this because I live my life this way. Embracing discomfort seems to be a habit of mine, a modus operandi. I did not realize this before reading Michael’s book The Comfort Crisis.
It got me thinking about some significant turning points in my life. What became clear was that comfort was never a decisive factor. Rather some other criteria were the weights on my primarily emotional balance while making these life choices.
Without a doubt, I always chose the road less traveled quite consistently. It was not the reason, though. There was something else about the nature and meaning of the paths that tilted the balance. I was passionately attracted, inspired, and highly motivated to choose my way. The paths I took somehow appealed, calling me to follow them. It seemed inevitable that I would.
In other words, my intuitive, subconscious made the choices. The rational mind was not really there, making it all the more obvious how discomfort was integral to these paths. Comfort is an argument of the rational mind. In contrast, love and passion are of the heart, the unconscious mind.
Most of the time, these choices lead to an almost certain discomfort. However, I’d venture to say the heart doesn’t care; it simply goes for what it’s after.
So basically, what I’m saying is, embrace discomfort. Anything worthwhile doing involves some degree of discomfort. Physical training demands effort, stressing your muscles and heart rate to recover into better fitness. Any kind of study or learning is, first and foremost, very uncomfortable – that’s the proverbial learning curve everyone speaks about. It takes time to overcome the discomfort of the beginning and get to a certain flow.
Artistic creation, and any creative endeavor for that matter, involves discomfort and challenges, you most probably can not prevent, if you want it to come out right. It’s nothing like what you imagine it to be for a long time before it becomes even remotely similar. And so on and so forth.
Natural evolution is moving forward by stressful environments changing the DNA of flora and fauna to adapt and evolve into better resistance to diseases or threats. Embracing discomfort will bring you to the other side of it with more confidence and knowing what you are capable of. It opens doors and widens horizons. What may have seemed impossible before the discomfort suddenly becomes possible.
When you genuinely want to do something, embrace the discomfort and do not let it deter you from your path. Surprising things may happen when you choose the unexpected, comfortable or not.
Please share any relatable experiences in the comments below.