Discomfort is how you learn

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“Have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host and then a master?” – Kahlil Gibran

We have low tolerance for discomfort. Really low. As in, a few seconds in and we’re looking for the exit. Emotional discomfort, physical discomfort, the mind doesn’t seem to differentiate.

But discomfort is how we learn. We enter a situation that we haven’t mastered yet and practice it. We expose our blind spots, our lacks. We see clearly the distance between where we are and we wish we were.

So it’s helpful to work with discomfort. One way is using physically uncomfortable moments. We can start with the obvious (physical discomfort)and move to the subtle (emotional discomfort), we start with the easy (physical discomfort) and move to the hard (emotional discomfort).

We can train our minds to rest in the discomfort. Mindfulness meditation and Buddhist practices help us with increasingly being comfortable with our discomfort.

We can practice when we exercise. We can let the feeling of discomfort in a little bit, then a little bit more, aiming towards welcoming it fully into the guest house.

And we can simply just keep going. Not grimly, but with a sense of humor at our infinite capacity for trying to duck out of discomfort. And not stopping.

“If you’re never able to tolerate a little bit of pain and discomfort, you’ll never get better.” – Angela Duckworth

(PS: If you’re wondering, this thought came to me on the treadmill.)

A note: physical discomfort is different than strong physical pain. Especially sharp, stabbing pain. Stop what you’re doing as soon as you feel that.

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