Attitude toward discomfort

Many lives and attitudes are designed to avoid discomfort. Avoidance isn’t all that hard if you develop an attitude that seeks to avoid problems and treat discomfort as a bad thing.

However, that approach goes against the principle of mindfulness. To solve problems, we must spend time with them. Discomfort, typically, is one of the best indicators of potential problems. I say “potential problems” because the feeling uncomfortable doesn’t guarantee a problem and we mustn’t treat it as such. Instead, the feeling should be used to dig deeper and seek an understanding of the situation and ourselves. Discomfort, in effect, is an indication that further analysis is required.

This approach – dig deeper and analyze whenever you experience discomfort – can sound like paranoia. It is. Changing Andy Grove’s famous book title, I’d say – “Only the paranoid thrive.” Extreme emotions dull our awareness of the subtle indicators that help us be more mindful of what is going on around us. Understanding what makes us uncomfortable helps us make better decisions.

And, if that isn’t enough, the habit of being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a big contributor to happiness. Attempting to avoid it only prolongs the feeling and that, in turn, ends up playing havoc with our ability to let go of difficulty.

By helping us stay present and happy, our attitude toward discomfort goes a long way in predicting our quality of life.

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