Take a look around society. We see a lot of weak people. Mentally, people allow the smallest of circumstances to get ahold of them and dictate their actions. Emotionally, they their emotions to get the better of them and, physically, people are unhealthy.
If you have any hope of becoming the man you are meant to be, you are going to need to learn to develop strength in each of those areas. And, the only way to get physically, mentally, and emotionally, is to embrace discomfort.
Again, and unfortunately, we live in a time in history where discomfort is relatively low.
If you’re cold, you turn on the heater. If you’re warm, you turn on the AC. If you’re hungry, you open the refrigerator and pull out some food that you didn’t have to kill or prepare – you just zap it in the microwave for a couple minutes and you’re all set.
If you have to get ahold of someone, you text. If you have an emergency or illness, the doctor’s office or hospital is fairly easy to get to. If you need to talk to someone, there’s call centers and therapists. If you can’t make your mortgage payment, there’s leniency. If you get laid off, there’s unemployment. I could go on and on but I won’t because you get it.
Look, this stuff isn’t bad in and of itself. Modern times and technology is great. I, for one, am not interested in reverting to the dark ages.
But I do think this discomfort comes at a cost. And, the cost is that when we do run across something that is a little difficult, we’re not adequately prepared to handle it.
I think there’s a trend in society where people are running away from things because they’re “a little hard.”
I would urge you to consider that rather than running from the things that are uncomfortable, we consider running to them instead.
Need to have a tough conversation? Have it.
Have an opportunity to speak in public? Do it.
Presented with a chance to compete in race or event? Compete.
Embracing the things that push us outside of our comfort zone establish new benchmarks for the way we approach the infinitely harder situations that will inevitably come up in our lives. And, this practice trains our minds and our bodies to handle those infinitely greater challenges we will face.
So, let me give you three very simple strategies that have helped me in my life when it comes to embracing discomfort in my life:
Make the Hard Path the Easy Path
Understanding that we have a natural tendency to choose the easy path can be used to our advantage. Many times, we understand that choosing to do something hard is the better route but we place so many barriers between where we are and where we want to be that the task become almost impossible to complete.
When I set out on my fitness journey three years ago, one of the biggest challenges for me was getting out of bed and into the gym. I didn’t know what workout I was going to do. I didn’t want to get my gym clothes out. I didn’t want to get my water and/or pre-workout ready. So I stayed in bed.
To combat this, I simply programmed my workouts the night before, had my gym bag ready, and my drink waiting for me in the fridge. When I woke up in the morning, I had eliminated all excuses to going to the gym.
Take some time to understand what barriers are keeping you from achieving what you want and find a way to tear them down ahead of time.
Reset the Default
Our default answer is always “whatever is easier.” We all know this and have been abiding by it for so long that we rarely give ourselves the chance to critically analyze if that’s the right answer at all. What if, instead, we reprogrammed our thought process to respond with “whatever is the hardest” as the default answer?
I’m not suggesting it always will be but choosing the hard thing first will force you to stop and actually think about what you should be doing in the first place. It will also give you the opportunity to consider the mantra “I embrace the challenge.”
Learn to Say “Yes”
Saying ‘no’ to the things that scare you is easy.
Want to speak in public? No.
Want to participate in a Spartan Race? No.
Want to go to the gym in the morning? No.
Want to start that new business? No.
Sure we disguise our answers but the fact remains, if it scares us or challenges us in any way, the answer is always ‘no.’
This is the reason it’s critical that we learn to say ‘yes’ more often. Be careful on this one though – you don’t want to say ‘yes’ to too many things. You just want to practice saying ‘yes’ more often.
When I’m presented with an opportunity to do something that scares me, I consider saying ‘yes’ long before I consider saying ‘no.’
I know this sounds oversimplified but it really is simple. These three key strategies have completely changed the way I look at approaching the things I know will push me outside my comfort zone. It’s simple in theory but harder in application. But, with a little practice and discipline and intentionality you can change the way you look at your life too.