Fuck Comfort.

by Mark on October 18, 2012

I admit it. Until fairly recently, I followed a hugely flawed approach to life. I sought comfort and tried to minimize pain. It seemed like the rational thing to do. I rationalized to myself how the “no pain, no gain” model was flawed. I told myself that pain was a sign that I was doing something wrong. I would just “work smarter, not harder.”

This followed the equally flawed approach of my childhood, which consisted of relentlessly pushing myself to the limit. I worked hard, played hard, competed hard, and rested little until eventually I started to burn out. Even injuries wouldn’t stop me. I remember asking myself around junior year in high school, “Why am I doing this?” I couldn’t come up with any compelling reason.

Being comfortable dooms you to the comfort zone.

It’s impossible to improve and grow without challenging yourself, and challenging yourself is not comfortable. The only way to get yourself out of the comfort zone onto a new, higher path is to endure a little discomfort or pain.

“Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.”
– Tim Ferriss

Do you fool yourself into thinking that you are productive by doing comfortable actions in order to avoid taking uncomfortable actions? I know that I do. It’s a horrible form of procrastination.

“Errands are so effective at killing great projects that a lot of people use them for that purpose. Someone who has decided to write a novel, for example, will suddenly find that the house needs cleaning. People who fail to write novels don’t do it by sitting in front of a blank page for days without writing anything. They do it by feeding the cat, going out to buy something they need for their apartment, meeting a friend for coffee, checking email. “I don’t have time to work,” they say. And they don’t; they’ve made sure of that.”
– Paul Graham

Take the cyclical approach.

I used to subscribe to the “slow and steady” approach. Maybe it is partly because of the old story The Tortoise and the Hare, but I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the fact that it is much more comfortable. This caused my brain to rationalize that it was the sensible approach. It is possible that slow and steady wins the race, but it is a horrible way to train for the race.

Improving requires alternating between stress and recovery. You need to exert intense effort and follow it with rest. You have to challenge your capacity, and then allow yourself time to adapt and regain energy.

Prolonged intensity will just lead to inflammation and cause us to wear down and burn out. Prolonged stagnation will cause us to get progressively weaker.

Challenge yourself.

I used to think that I would be happiest if I lived a life without pain, but now I know that it just leads to stagnation, boredom, and negativity.

Pain serves as a signal. Sometimes it signals injury, which means we should stop what we are doing or change our approach. Other times it is just a signal that we are pushing past our limits, which is pretty exciting. We shouldn’t fear this kind of pain. It’s a signal that we are on the right path.

Fuck comfort. If you want to get Better, Stronger, Faster, then embrace temporary discomfort.

Previous post:

Next post: