Getting Comfortable with Discomfort
Episode #5 of the course The fundamentals of self-discipline by Martin Meadows.
In our last lesson, we talked about keystone habits and how they can help you make several positive changes in your life. In this lesson, I’ll reveal one habit I didn’t mention in the previous lesson that can change your life.
It’s willingly making yourself uncomfortable on a regular basis.
I know, it sounds weird. Why would you willingly seek discomfort? What’s the point?
To answer this question, let’s bring back the definition of self-discipline: choosing delayed gratification over instant little rewards.
You don’t eat this delicious piece of cake today because you’d rather enjoy a healthy, sexy body months from now and for the rest of your life.
You don’t stay in bed because you’d rather get up and work on your business, which will help you achieve financial independence in the future.
You don’t vent at your spouse because you’d rather enjoy a lifetime relationship of love and mutual respect.
All of these choices are about choosing temporary discomfort. The more often you make such decisions, the better you get at resisting the temptation to surrender to fleeting instant gratification.
That’s why willingly putting yourself in uncomfortable situations on a regular basis is a powerful keystone habit. By befriending discomfort, you’ll learn how to thrive despite difficulties, setbacks, and temptations, and this will allow you to maintain long-term self-discipline.
Five Ways to Practice Discomfort
To get you started, here are five ways you can practice discomfort. Please note that if you suffer from any health conditions, speak with your doctor first before you put yourself in any kind of a situation uncomfortable for your body.
1. Take Cold Showers
Or if you feel adventurous, take a cold bath. Many people can’t imagine a worse torture than a cold shower. Test your resolve today by standing for five minutes in ice cold water.
2. Abstain from Food
Go on a short fast by skipping one or two meals, or if you’re so inclined, an entire day of eating. Intermittent fasting is beneficial to your health, and it’s also a great way to practice discomfort.
3. Speak in Front of a Group
Public speaking is the number one fear for many people. Consequently, it serves as a great exercise to learn how to befriend discomfort.
4. Jump Out of an Airplane
Or engage in any other adrenaline-boosting extreme sport or activity like scuba diving, bungee jumping, or climbing. Facing your fears will dramatically boost your confidence as well as teach you useful lessons on how to act despite uncertainty.
5. Engage in Strenuous Physical Activity
Push your limits at the gym, run as fast as you can, take martial arts classes, or engage in any other activity that will make you feel extreme exhaustion. Do it safely, though—the point isn’t to injure yourself but to push your physical limits despite having an immense urge to escape the pain.
Please note there are numerous ways to practice discomfort. What’s uncomfortable for one person may be pleasurable to another. The bottom line is to put yourself in whatever situation challenges your willpower or makes you uneasy.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about another important aspect of building self-discipline—your social environment and how it can make or break your resolve.
“The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It”
by Kelly McGonigal Ph.D.
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