The Uncomfortable Habit: Getting Results That Matter

“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.”

-Peter McWilliams

When was the last time you felt like giving up?

Have you recently quit a new project because it was too difficult?

Somewhere between quitting my corporate job and deciding to travel the world, I knew there would be days that I regretted leaving the developed world behind. Since then, substituting a half-life of convenience for a full life of adventure has been anything but easy. I no longer enjoy drinking hot mocha expressos and crunching on the occasional almond biscotti. Now, if I’m lucky, finding a place with an espresso machine is a treat.

Indeed, the days of living luxuriously have passed. At least, for the time being.

And as much as I would love a sandwich, variety doesn’t not exist in all parts of the world.

A Few of My Recent Discomforts

Eating exotic foods that have left me bedridden and stranded to the toilet for a number of days. Traveling with loose bowels is the absolute worst.

I have found myself stranded, lost in foreign locations with no English speakers in sight.

Unusual weather patterns catch me at the worst of times: try getting caught in the middle of a torrential downpour with no rain gear riding on a motorbike (which is somewhere between a moped and a motorcycle).

I experience constant disappointments while trying my hardest to communicate with Thai people in their native tongue. My failed attempts are frustrating to say the least.

At times, my allergies have never been worse. Western living has impoverished my immune system. Apparently, outside of my home town, I am allergic to an unknown quantity of things.  Itching eyes, sore throat, runny nose, (this is not a NyQuil Ad) and swollen sinuses are just a few of the notable irritations of a bad day.

Keep in mind, none of these symptoms were advertised on the beautiful postcard pictures that I saw in last month’s issue of  National Geographic.

Yet, as whinny and trivial as these complaints may seem, they are the exact reasons that I travel. Nothing beats a good adventure! The irritations, difficulties, and challenges of daily life make it worth living. I have learned to be appreciate the more simpler routines in  life such as 7-hour minivan rides across the country, eating white rice three times a day, and breathing clean air.

The key to achieving the uncomfortable habit lies in understanding that all progress contains resistance. We naturally resist change. Our bodies are designed with ancient survival instincts that intrinsically resist change. Everyone experiences resistance during growth. In fact, it is how we grow. Do you remember experiencing “growing pains” as a child?

The only difference between successful and unsuccessful people is that successful people are able to move past resistance  and toward results.

The majority of the time, life is easy and all goes well. When it doesn’t, resistance approaches us. As a result of living in an undeveloped country, I have quickly learned to recognize uncomfortable situations and conquer them. The secret is to know that you will encounter resistance, and when you do, recognize it and keep moving past it. It will make all the difference in the world. Consistent action destroys all resistance. The path of purpose is covered with uncomfortable stones. With every step forward we face new challenges and sought difficulties. We want difficulty in life, we want to face them and conquer, it is how we grow. Nobody enjoys getting a six-pack, it takes hard work and hours of resistance training to form the abdominal muscles. Just as this principle works in strength training, so will it work in your life.

Developing a couple of  uncomfortable habits has given me some amazing results: I am healthier than I have ever before. I understand and adopt a personal philosophy of determination and perseverance in everything I do. Learning to get comfortable with the uncomfortable actions of live can help you conquer anything. The best way develop a habit of being uncomfortable is to do things that you don’t normally do. Challenge yourself and practice accepting struggle as part of the process. Get comfortable with discomfort. Remember, your goal is understanding that you are going to be uncomfortable. When you recognize your discomfort, recognize it as natural resistance, accept it as an essential part of the process, and keep moving.

Success can be found by doing the uncomfortable habits that others will not.

Doing these habits will change your life. Training yourself to conquer the natural resistance that accompanies change will make all the difference in the world.

Here’s a few uncomfortable habits to get started:

  1. Exercise three to four times a week. The most difficult part is starting your workout. Running or walking is great for beginners. Yoga is a great way to learn how to overcome being uncomfortable. Stretching every day is a more simpler form of yoga. Even after two years of yoga, I still find it challenges the core of the resistance in me. Try and find activities that you enjoy that involve exercise.
  2. Eating healthy: Most people don’t enjoy eating green vegetables. They find them tasting bitter, sour, and overall unpleasing. It’s easier to eat some warm, salty french fries. Just like it’s easier to sit on the couch and watch television.  But, the unpopular taste of leafy greens tells us a little bit about how healthy they are. In this case, bitter is better. Raw broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, green beans, celery, and cucumbers are great ways to boost your energy, load up on vitamins and minerals, and feel great. You can even eat them raw or uncooked. Drop the white potatoes, corn on the cob, and iceberg lettuce. Add a little bitterness to your palate, its good for you.
  3. Avoid stimulates and depressants on a regular basis: Try to avoid drinking alcohol when you get home from work, see how many days you can go without smoking a cigarette, or drinking a cup of coffee, and by all means stop eating refined sugar. Challenge yourself: see how long you can avoid at least one of the above. It’s going to be difficult, but you can do it. Test your might  and see how many days you can handle the discomfort. I used to do all of the above. I stopped smoking almost 5 years ago, I avoid unnecessary amounts of refined sugars, and recently have stopped drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Though, I must admit, I do have a beer from time to time. But, reducing the amount of days that I drink has made me more productive and happier. Developing the uncomfortable habit is not about abstinence. I am not telling you that drugs and alcohol are bad. It is about controlling the habits that you can control and being in charge of your life. You can go with the flow or fight your way to to the top. But, you have to know who is in charge, you or your cravings.
  4. Meditation: Can you sit still for five minutes? It might look easy or silly in movies, but try and sit in a comfortable position and relax your mind. Heck, try and sit in a comfortable cross-legged position. Can you settle your thoughts? Close your eyes and listen. If you feel any discomfort arise, try and make the best of it. How long does it take until your completely comfortable?
  5. Start doing passionate work: Working is hard work. Working for free is even harder. Passionate work with purpose is the hardest. It’s not an easy, guaranteed paycheck every week. No one pats you on the back saying, “Great job!” It’s relentless and tough. You have to motivate yourself. No one is going to do it for you. You have to beat the resistance of starting. It’s difficult to turn the TV off and start working. It takes a large amount of self-control and willpower. Learning to do the right thing without immediate reward is the start of being successful. Do the work now and the rest will follow.
  6. Wake up earlier: Try and start the day off on the uncomfortable foot. It’s amazing what you can do with an extra thirty minutes every day. You can read a few books in under a month, write that novel that you have always been dreaming about (literally), or squeeze in some exercise and start working on that beach body.
  7. Forgive someone: Release someone from your mental grip of blame. Learn to be comfortable putting your pride aside and forgiving that person. Know in your heart that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. Our problems are not our parent’s fault as much as we like to believe. Our parents struggled just as much as we do. The reason that we don’t have time is not because of our children’s needs and wants. It’s because we don’t prioritize our time or do not want to wake up earlier. Our friends and their families struggle just as much we do though if might not always be apparent. We are all on the same boat. Understand everyone is just as uncomfortable with life’s difficulty as you are, try and forgive them. Give them another chance. Then, both of you can relax and enjoy the ride.
  8. Stop listening to your ego: The majority of our mental discomforts like stress, judgment, and fear stem from our egos. That nagging voice in our head puts an enormous amount of unneeded pressure on us and makes every situation out to be more than it is. Life is not that serious. At the end of our days, we are going to look back on all this as a short dream. Stop listening to your ego and listen quietly for what follows after that incessant whining. It’s a better way of doing things.
  9. Listen: We hardly ever listen. It’s easy to talk about ourselves, normally, the words just fly off the tongue. Countless amounts of useless, self-absorbed information pours out of our mouth without a hint of our acknowledgement or realization. Here’s a challenge: try listening for once. Resist the temptation to interrupt the other person. Let them complete their thought and finish the sentence. Don’t speak in that uncomfortable silence that follows, then, the other person will know you where really listening.
  10. Talk: Challenge yourself to stand up and speak in uncomfortable situations: talk to someone you find attractive, someone who’s opinion you admire, talk to someone who can teach you, or tell someone the truth. As much as we love to talk, most of us lack the courage to stand up to the right people and speak in difficult situations. It’s much easier to stay in our seats and let the moment pass us by. It’s a shame that so many opportunities pass by and we never arise to the occasion. Who knows how different the future would be if we weren’t scared of uncomfortable rejections?

Now that you know how to develop uncomfortable habits, what are you going to do?

Will you accept the resistance as part of the process or let it beat you time and time again?

About Stephan Stansfield

Stephan is the owner, creator, and editor of Peregrine Poise.
He is currently traveling and teaching around the world. When he is not helping others discover their true potential, he finds time to surf, read, and reflect on the important issues of living a good life.

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