Turn Setbacks into Setups
The Value Of Being Uncomfortable
June 25, 2019
Imagine one of your friends telling you, in all seriousness, “I know everything I need to, so I’m not going to try anything new. I’ll just stay right where I am, thanks.” Understandably, you’d probably think they were crazy, and that they’ll be missing out on amazing opportunities by staying in one place.
Yet even without thinking the same thought, most of us end up in the same situation as your hypothetical friend. We’re most comfortable on the couch. We love our routines. We don’t want to feel discomfort.
But the thing is, discomfort is the only thing that helps your personal growth and development. If you’re feeling fully content and comfortable with your life, chances are you aren’t growing at all.
From pain comes growth. With huge discomfort comes learning—in quite a few ways.
Being uncomfortable increases productivity.
Psychologically speaking, comfort kills productivity. When you’re settled into a stable life, you’re not moving forward; you’re wasting time and opportunities. Without having a goal, a deadline, or a passion you truly hunger for, you’re missing out on the chance to change your life for the better. Hungering for something new, and taking those uncomfortable steps to make it a reality, can motivate you to become more successful and productive in life.
Stepping out of our comfort zone slows mental aging.
As it turns out, embracing new challenges can actually change the way we age as well. One 2013 study found that learning new skills can help keep an aging mind sharp.
In the study, participants were tasked with learning a variety of mentally demanding skills, such as digital photography or quilting. These skills required the ongoing use of both long-term and short-term memory, as well as other high-level cognitive functions. Upon completion of the study, the adults who practiced these demanding skills showed higher memory function than those who had only practiced easier skills like listening to music or doing word puzzles. Researchers concluded that the very process of doing something new and unfamiliar is what helps us to enhance our cognitive state, providing mental stimulation and pushing our brains to continue developing.
Trying new things helps us to gain new perspectives.
A stable routine feels safer, but it also tears away at our chances to gain perspective on life. Perspective is what allows us to gain wisdom in life, to better understand others, and to better understand our own situation. And when you surround yourself with the same environment and the same people, day in and day out, you’re not shifting your perspective—you’re stagnating. Throwing yourself into a situation where you meet new people, see new things, or try something that scares you can reshape the way you look at the world, increasing your understanding of your goals and your path forward.
Discomfort is a sign of progress.
Think of it this way: discomfort and pain are weakness and complacency leaving your body. Ever heard the saying “no pain, no gain”? Well, when you push yourself past your own limits to the point of discomfort, that brief suffering is what helps you stretch yourself further than you thought possible, adapting to new situations and growing your abilities.
Regardless of the type of discomfort you choose, a little temporary discomfort can help you grow and adapt, getting everything you want in life. Even small, but repeated, decisions to let yourself be uncomfortable can add up, making you a more confident and stronger person.