If you want change in your life, are you ready to leave your comfort zone? If you want to grow, I’m ready to challenge you. Together, let’s explore the value of seeking discomfort as a way of personal growth.
The state of comfort can be very enjoyable — but it can also prevent you from growing.
For sure you have heard the phrase “comfort zone” and you know that it is a natural human tendency to seek out places or situations that make us feel safe, secure, and happy. This can be good for your health as a person because it reduces stress levels and keeps you motivated and productive. But comfort doesn’t just prevent stress—it can also prevent personal growth.
Think about how many times in your life when you’ve tried something new and felt uncomfortable with the results. The first few times this happened, maybe there was some resistance to taking action on what was unfamiliar (especially if it was an experiment with failure), but eventually most people learned that stepping outside of their comfort zone has benefits in terms of personal development and growth as well as overall self-confidence.
In order to grow, you have to face discomfort.
This is why seeking out discomfort is such a good thing. If you’re feeling uncomfortable at the moment, it’s because your brain and body are telling you that something needs to change—and that making that change will be good for your long-term health.
So go ahead and do things that make you uncomfortable! Do them as much as safely possible! Let’s say you have a meeting scheduled with someone who intimidates or annoys you, but who has valuable information or insight: go to the meeting anyway. If there’s an exercise class or social event coming up that sounds like something fun but also slightly terrifying: sign up for it (and then hope no one asks why).
When you’re coming from a place of comfort and you want to step outside of it, you have to be willing to experience discomfort.
You have to be willing to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone. You have to be willing to face your fears and take risks.
By doing things where you’re uncomfortable, you’re forcing yourself into growth-oriented situations that force you to grow in order for you to not only improve your life but also improve the lives of those around you.
As you grow as an individual, your work becomes better and more meaningful because you are able to understand it better than ever before.
Discomfort can come in big ways and small ways — but each step over the threshold of discomfort is a step toward growth.
As humans, we are naturally drawn to comfort. We like soft beds, warm showers, and comfy sweaters. We also have comfort foods when we are feeling sad and unmotivated. But seeking out discomfort can be a way of moving toward growth in your life.
In a recent Happiness Co podcast episode, Thomas and Brayden mentioned that if you intentionally and strategically expose yourself to difficult scenarios, you will find such experiences less difficult due to the resilience and willpower built previously.
There’s no need to push yourself beyond what your body and mind are capable of handling.
- Don’t try to do too much at once. Take small steps and progress as you go.
- Don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Find the point at which things start to become difficult for you, then see if you can push past that point just a little bit more.
- Don’t try to do things that are beyond your current ability, especially if you’ve never done them before or haven’t had much practice with them.
- Don’t push yourself beyond what your body can handle. If something doesn’t feel right or doesn’t feel good, don’t force yourself into it—there will be plenty of other opportunities for personal growth later on down the road when you’re ready for them.
For personal growth, you should seek out discomfort as much as you safely can.
Seeking discomfort doesn’t mean that you should just go out and do dangerous things without thinking about it. This means that you should ensure that no one around you gets hurt, even yourself.
As long as you follow this rule, there are lots of ways to push yourself in new directions while staying safe:
- Try a new sport – maybe something like basketball or baseball where there’s less risk than football or soccer; maybe even pick up an instrument if music is your thing!
- Take up an art form – painting, drawing, singing… whatever makes sense for your personality type (and comfort level).
- Make yourself speak in front of others more often so that speaking isn’t such a big deal anymore!
Thomas also shared examples in our recent podcast episode based on his real-life experience at the Army Reserves training. He said that developing and upholding the defence values have helped him develop so much as a person. Specifically, the Defence values are service, courage, respect, integrity, and excellence. These powerful values that all of us can use in our everyday lives, in the workplace, at home, in the gym, and in every aspect of life.
Gentle reminder to be kind with yourself as you seek discomfort. It’s not the only way to grow, and it’s easier for some people than others (particularly those who already live in a state of constant discomfort). But if you want to grow, then seeking discomfort is one means of doing so. Not every day or every moment has to be uncomfortable. But by taking steps outside your comfort zone every now and then, you’ll begin to expand the region of safety in which you’re able to operate — both physically and mentally.
For more self-development and mental health resources, visit our blog and listen to the latest episode of our Upside Podcast here.