Why You Should Live An Uncomfortable Life

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Comfy is good. Comfy is so good. Comfy is hot cocoa, your bed, shoes you’ve had forever and broken in perfectly. Ordering the same thing at the same restaurant on the same day each week. Rewatching Love, Actually, again. Predictable, pleasant, perfectly comfortable. No risk, no danger, no challenge.

You can see where this is going.

Comfortable is also stagnant. Comfortable is the opposite of change and growth. Comfortable is wearing a groove in the world with your habits and thoughts. Nobody has ever reached the summit of Mt. Everest comfortably.

In fitness, in order to build muscle you have to do a bit of damage in the form of micro-tears. When those micro-tears heal, the muscle tissue is stronger than before. This process is hard work, and anyone who’s worked out knows that DOMS is anything but comfortable. Anyone who’s worked out also knows that you can’t develop strength or skill without stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.

In life, learning a new skill is uncomfortable; you have to start. When you start learning something brand new, you’re going to be bad at it. Bad feels…bad, right? But you can’t take the second, third, fourth steps without stumbling through that very first one. Now hold on tight while we get extra meta: Learning how to learn a new skill is also a skill. Whoa. And when you start learning how to learn, you’re going to be bad at learning for a little bit. Double whoa. Want to know how to get better at learning how to learn? That’s right: do it more often. Practice learning for learning’s sake. Consider it physiotherapy for your mind.

When it comes to your creative life, sharing your work with the world can be terrifying. If you meet that terror, breathe, accept that this is what risk feels like, you can move through it. The funny thing about taking a big creative risk (even if what feels like a big creative risk is actually as small as sending a short story off to a contest, or sharing a photo of your latest painting with your 67 Instagram followers), is that even if you fail, you’ll be fine.

Here’s where learning how to learn, and practicing taking risks, and getting better at moving through discomfort and doing it anyway, pays big fat dividends:

There will always be that moment where the bottom falls out of your stomach right before you step on stage, right before you hit send. That’s your primal, instinctive, lizard brain; the one that was designed to save you from being eaten by rhinos. Your lizard brain does not like being uncomfortable. The more you visit that uncomfortable place, the more you teach yourself that you can survive feeling uncomfortable, and the braver you'll become. The challenges you feel capable of taking on will become larger; you might even find that the world becomes larger. And then you can sit back and enjoy that hot cocoa in your comfy shoes, knowing that you survived your own personal wilderness.