My overall happiness levels increase when I grow. Growth and comfort are linked. When I feel comfortable I also feel like I have limited growth opportunities. I think it is best to be uncomfortable because discomfort is a clear indicator of personal growth. Embracing discomfort does not give me immediate pleasure in the short term, but I know it has serious impacts on my future happiness levels.

It is best to be uncomfortable because I do not grow when I am comfortable.

Comfort means that I understand the outcome of an event or interaction. If I understand the outcome of an event, there is no need for me to accomplish the event, because I understand its outcome. I will naturally feel uncomfortable if I don’t know how the event will unfold. If I set an expectation for myself and am not confident in performing to that level, I will feel uncomfortable. Those feelings of discomfort indicate that I am pushing myself.

Discomfort is rooted in the fear of the unknown.

I am unsure whether I will perform to the expectation I set myself and therefore I fear the result. For instance, I feel uncomfortable when public speaking because I do not know how people will perceive my performance. How will they react? Will they understand and be persuaded by my pitch? Do I come off as intelligent? However I know I will learn disproportionately more if I were to put myself on a stage than if I were not to. 

One of the most common forms of discomfort is when interacting with others. We frequently feel uncomfortable because it can be difficult to understand other’s reactions. Do people like interacting with me? Does my boss appreciate my insights? These types of questions are naturally difficult to answer when faced with interacting with new people and settings. On the flip side, we rarely feel uncomfortable around friends and family because we have such a better sense of how they will react.

Comfort is a form of settling.

When I am comfortable, I know that I am not pushing myself. I am comfortable with the people I interact with, I am comfortable with the work that I am outputting. For me that means something needs to change. I need to experience the unknown in order to grow. As an independent man with few family responsibilities, the risk of failure is relatively low. I know if I don’t take risks I limit my growth opportunities.

I hold to the mantra that I should start experiences before I feel ready. If I feel ready, then I probably could shoot for something more. If I feel ready that means I have set a bar that I know I can achieve. The outcome is known to me. By setting the bar higher and shooting for points of failure, I can grow even faster. I may not reach the bar I set, but I know I will perform above a bar that I feel comfortable setting.

Quitting my job and hiking the AT is the most significantly uncomfortable event that I have experienced.

I told everyone I was hiking the AT. I’d hiked a max of 70 miles in a row previously. 2200 is a completely different ball game. I was not ready to quit my job when I did, but I knew it was best to be uncomfortable. I knew I feared the unknown. By setting such a high bar for myself I grew tremendously in a short 4 months. Read about some of my takeaways here: Appalachian Trail Takeaways Part 1.

My next adventure is to travel and write the Happyness Journal blog. I don’t know whether I can sustain myself or how I am going to make ends meet.

Best to Be Uncomfortable - Appalachian Trail Image

I could find a new full time job, and I may still look for one. Full time employment is tantalizing because it is comfortable. I know that if I must apply to a full time job, I need to feel uncomfortable in that space. I lose growth from my incredible AT experience if I settle with full time employment in a known space. Because it is best to be uncomfortable, I’ve decided to push myself and grow and try out new life choices.

Summary

  • It is best to be uncomfortable because discomfort indicates growth experiences.
  • Comfort indicates limited growth.
  • I feel uncomfortable when I start experiences before I am ready, but I know that is a good thing for me.
  • I feel uncomfortable with the trajectory of the Happyness Journal and that excites me.

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