The Uncomfortable Truth About Discomfort

The Uncomfortable Truth About Discomfort

  • Reading time: 3 minutes

I suspect you are reading this because you want to improve some part of your life.

Maybe you want to be more productive, have more free time, or make more money.

If that is the case, let me break it to you right now, there are no shortcuts.

Just reading this will not magically get you any of these things.

But there is a process to getting there and this is what I am talking about.

Everything worthwhile takes work, over an extended period.

This is often not fun.

You will face challenges, some of which may scare you.

Reaching out cold to potential clients.

Put yourself out there.

Have that hard conversation.

But too often, we don‘t do these things.

Why is that?

Generally, as we improve our lives we remove discomfort.

If you don‘t like cleaning your flat, hire someone.

If you don‘t like shopping for groceries, get them delivered.

This happens gradually, but it makes us reject even the slightest notion of discomfort.

I am not saying that this is bad.

I do it all the time, and with the advent of AI, this will even accelerate.

But when we lose the ability to handle discomfort, how do we still make progress towards our goals - most of which require discomfort?

By installing discomfort back into our lives.

Let me share a few examples from my life.

Every morning I end my cosy warm shower, with a splash of icy water.

Just barely above the freezing point, to not get hurt.

I am not telling you about all the potential health benefits of cold showers.

But let me tell you something, people seem to forget:

Cold showers never get warmer. Read that again.

Every day is a new struggle and the cold hits me every time.

But when I have done it, I feel so much better.

Doing something annoying first thing in the morning, everything that follows during the day is subjectively easier to push through.

This is what discomfort enables.

By voluntarily choosing and enduring discomfort, we prepare ourselves to endure the bigger struggles - struggles that are worth it.

So how do you install more discomfort?

By letting it be your compass.

I don‘t know who came up with that phrase, but it stuck with me ever since I first heard it.

Here is my interpretation of it.

I spend a lot of time in my head, feeding and listening to that voice we all have.

As soon as it indicates some sort of scare or embarrassment I take action.

In the shower, I sometimes think about skipping the cold.

But as soon as that thought lands in my mind, I switch the lever to the cold.

I give you another example.

In the gym at some point I wanted to do barbell pulls, but without weights.

My mind was suggesting that I might look like the weakest guy in the gym.

Again, as soon as I realized that thought, I just went and did it - and unsurprisingly no one gave a damn,

At this point I made it a little game, scanning my thoughts for things that may scare or embarrass me and then doing these things.

Now do you do all the things?

Hell no.

The actions that I have mentioned here are usually risk-free - cold showers, looking silly in the gym. None of that has a high risk of negative consequences.

So if you are contemplating swimming with the sharks, think if that risk is something you can tolerate (you might still do it).

What are the discomforts that you are avoiding right now?

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