When a Little Discomfort Is Good for You

Updated on January 7, 2020
R Swafford profile image

This could change your life and flip your world upside-down.

A New Perspective

Would you walk through the cold for a few minutes instead of opting to stay inside if you knew it would benefit your well being? It may seem like a small and insignificant change, but research actually says that being in nature can give our mood a boost, and benefit our mental well-being. Beyond nature, there are so many other things you can try that may be uncomfortable at first but will greatly benefit you in the long run.

Would you try something new that you're not interested in if you knew it would help you grow, and benefit you down the road? Have you ever told yourself "I can't"? Changing that one little phrase to "I can't yet" could make the biggest difference in the rest of your life, no matter how old you are. I mean, think about this: How many opportunities passed you by because you said "I can't do that"? Probably a lot, but you'll never know until you start saying "I can"!

A Little Discomfort

Here's the thing: People who are successful understand the value of delayed gratification. Doing things you don't want to do in the moment can help you down the road. For example, if you weren't interested in history, what if you read a book about someone who was interested in the same things as you are, but was born hundreds of years ago? Your small choices can make an incredible impact on your life and that starts with reaching outside of your comfort zones. Assess your likes and dislikes. Why is it that you dislike certain things? Looking for exceptions to the rule will help you explore more of yourself and the world.

Looking at yourself as a whole is helpful. Recognize that the you of the future will still be the you that you are now, just with more experiences and different surroundings. Thinking about your future self can help you make choices that positively influence your current well-being. What can you do right now that you will thank yourself for in a day, a week, a month, or a year?

Start Small!

Here are some simple, effective ways to spark new thoughts and refresh your mind:

  • Take a different route home from work, and actively observe the new surroundings. What and who do you see? What does it remind you of? How do you feel?
  • Remember that thing you have always said you want to do? Maybe it's skydiving, or visiting a museum, or learning an instrument, or trying a certain food. Well, make plans, add it to the calendar, and try it!
  • Brush your teeth with your other hand. Yep, you heard me. Even something this small can activate parts of your brain in new ways!
  • Talk to a co-worker/neighbor/acquaintance that you don't usually talk to. Be curious about their life, with the main goal of listening and contemplating their words. What do you think you can learn from them? What do you have in common?
  • Take a mildly cold shower. Notice how it wakes you up. Does it make you more grateful for hot water?
  • Ask your friend/partner/spouse/relative an open-ended question that you wouldn't normally ask. For example, "What's a hobby you've always wanted to try but never got around to?"
  • Use your money differently as an experiment (even if it's just for a day). Do you normally buy anything you like? Try not buying things. Do you normally buy only what you need? Try buying something small for yourself; it could be something as simple as a new soap. Do you normally use a credit card? Try paying with cash for a day. How does it feel?
  • Trying doing a regular task at a different speed. Do you normally rush through your morning commute? Wake up 10 minutes early and use that time to slow down both your car and your mind.
  • Close your eyes while eating, and pay attention to the flavor, texture, and and consistency of the food. This will force your brain to focus more energy on your sense of taste. What did you notice that you wouldn't have if your eyes were open?
  • If you normally wear dark colors, wear a bright color. If you always match your socks, try wearing them unmatched for a day.
  • What other ideas can you think of that are specific to your own life? Spend a few minutes brainstorming and writing them down.

The Results

Over time, doing things differently will train your brain to be more open to new experiences (and the discomfort that comes with them). Changing your perspective and your life doesn't have to be a giant commitment or a major priority shift; I hope this article inspires and encourages you to see that. Did you try any of these ideas? If so, how did they go? Do you have any ideas that you'd like to share? Please comment below!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Rebecca Swafford


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Well this is something. My young son has got me wearing different colored socks. I definitely drive different on drives. Hikes in the Grand Canyon are the hardest.

      Maybe messing up and then fixing it is the hardest.

      Great article.


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