Attitude toward discomfort

Many lives and attitudes are designed to avoid discomfort. Avoidance isn’t all that hard if you develop an attitude that seeks to avoid problems and treat discomfort as a bad thing.

However, that approach goes against the principle of mindfulness. To solve problems, we must spend time with them. Discomfort, typically, is one of the best indicators of potential problems. I say “potential problems” because the feeling uncomfortable doesn’t guarantee a problem and we mustn’t treat it as such. Instead, the feeling should be used to dig deeper and seek an understanding of the situation and ourselves. Discomfort, in effect, is an indication that further analysis is required.

This approach – dig deeper and analyze whenever you experience discomfort – can sound like paranoia. It is. Changing Andy Grove’s famous book title, I’d say – “Only the paranoid thrive.” Extreme emotions dull our awareness of the subtle indicators that help us be more mindful of what is going on around us. Understanding what makes us uncomfortable helps us make better decisions.

And, if that isn’t enough, the habit of being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a big contributor to happiness. Attempting to avoid it only prolongs the feeling and that, in turn, ends up playing havoc with our ability to let go of difficulty.

By helping us stay present and happy, our attitude toward discomfort goes a long way in predicting our quality of life.

Out on a limb

Facts about going out on a limb –

  • You have to wrestle fear and self-doubt before you can do so
  • The feeling of putting yourself out there when you ask for a favor you didn’t need to ask, ship a side project or make a connection you didn’t really need to make can be excruciatingly uncomfortable
  • It is far easier to be comfortable and do absolutely nothing
  • You have to embrace the possibility that it might not work (and for good reason – it doesn’t actually “work” as you intended most of the time)
  • Every once a while, you’ll hear some negative feedback that you will remember for a long time
  • Most of all, it feels unnatural

But, most good things in life come from embracing ideas that don’t feel natural. And, nearly all good things come from doing things that are difficult.

As the wise Scott Peck might say, perhaps all we need to do is to accept that it is difficult. For, once it is accepted, the fact that it is difficult no longer matters.

out on a limb,