Intentionally Getting Uncomfortable
I’m a lifelong learner – if I could get paid to take classes for a living, I’d probably be happy (assuming it’s not math…).
Every year, as part of my goal setting, which involves sitting down with a pen and post-it note and jotting a few things down, I try to list one new thing I want to do or learn for the year, sometimes more.
You see, what this boils down to for me is that variety really is the spice of life, to borrow an old saying. I honestly believe that this approach to being happier is what has kept me, in some ways, out of the clutches of prolonged melancholy or depression.
Trying new things, I discovered are a solid practice for maintaining my mental wellness. The odd thing is that I hadn’t connected it to my happiness before. If I’m not learning something new, then I’m usually pretty miserable.
5 Awesome Benefits of being Uncomfortable:
1. You’re in control. You decided what new thing you want to try and just go for it!
2. You’ll feel a sense of motivation when you take that first step (ok, you’ll probably also feel sick to your stomach, but that should pass, eventually)
3. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment having done it.
4. Your more risk-averse friends will totally admire you (yes, I am a Badass, Zumba rock star, that’s right!)
5. It has the power to be transformative. You’ll learn something about yourself from all that discomfort, like, that you’re in fact, a real badass.
So, should I jump out of a plane or climb a mountain to feel the fear?
Some people may feel that the idea of feel the fear and do it anyway, has to mean doing something scary big and very extreme. I personally believe that if you really desire to experience what it’s like to jump out of planes, do stand up comedy or pose nude for an art class like Marianne Power, author of Help Me, My Perfectly Disastrous Journey Through the World of Self-Help, then go for it!
I also think you can do things you are curious about, that you get excited about and yes, that scares you a lot or a little. This could be as extreme as hang gliding or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or less expensive and still risky like learning to ice skate (I did this and trust me, the fear of falling and breaking your bones is real!), learning to Tango when you are rhythmically challenge, or training for a 10k when can barely get up the flights of stairs at the subway without wheezing. Just sayin’ when it comes to getting uncomfortable for personal growth, you do you boo!
I have a friend who has a list of 50 new things she wants to try for her 50th year. I love that idea! Having a variety of new, interesting, fun and sometimes scary things to experience throughout the year is such a great way to keep active, to stay curious and to grow!
Here are 3 less extreme, yet uncomfortable experiences I’ve had:
1. Solo Travel: I know people who are scared of solo travel. I was one of them until I decided to ease myself into it. I started with a solo trip to visit family in England. I had a place to stay but was free to wander the London streets all day alone. Since then I’ve travelled solo to Chicago, Spain, Savannah, Georgia and Portugal.
2. Giddy Up: I rode a horse for the first time in Iceland in the rain, cold and strong winds. Horses scare me and riding a horse for an hour in awful weather, I was freaked out the entire time.
3. Getting punched in the face: I took a technical boxing class, at Cabbagetown Boxing Gym (I think part of that movie Cinderella Man with Russell Crow was filmed there). It legit smelled like what you imagined an authentic; old school boxing gym would look and smell like. The instructor, well, he looked like he coached many champs back in the day.
I tried to do a bit of sparring in the ring with a more seasoned boxer. I was terrified and I got punched in the face and lost a contact lens. That ended my boxing career before it ever started. I was completely fine, I was properly protected and the punch didn’t hurt (also my fault for dropping my gloves and leaving my face exposed).
Turned that I absolutely LOVED every, single, gruelling, sweaty workout! To this day, I will swear that boxing is the best fitness workout you can get!
Some Final thoughts
In all of these activities, I’m usually mediocre at best, or sometimes the classes were not that great, or the students are far younger or more experienced than me, but I’m still happier for silencing the self-doubt and fear and taking the time to intentionally get uncomfortable by putting myself out there to learn something new, maybe meet interesting people, have fun and be a happier me.